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Doubt over poll outcome

The Nation/ANN | Monday, Feb 3, 2014

Election commission officials display ballot papers to the media while counting votes at a polling station in Bangkok

THAILAND - Despite the government's claim of "victory" after voting was conducted in 89 per cent of the country's 375 constituencies yesterday, many factors point to the high likelihood that this election - marred by boycotts and a long rowdy protest - could end up being declared void.

An unusually low voter turnout was reported in many provinces, even in part of the North and Northeast where the ruling Pheu Thai Party has enjoyed popularity. In southern provinces, voter turnout was estimated at 20 to 30 per cent, much lower than previous elections.

Voter turnout was a little over 40 per cent in Chai Nat, less than 50 per cent in Phichit, about 50 per cent in Ayutthaya, according to local election officials.

There were reports of a high number of "no votes" in many provinces, as eligible voters ticked the box at the bottom of the ballot paper to vote for "none of the above". No votes were mostly in Bangkok and urban areas of the provinces.

Voting could be held without problems in 59 provinces, at 83,669 out of all 93,952 polling stations, according to EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong. The EC would unveil the voter turnout figure today, he said.

In Bangkok, 516 out of 6,671 polling stations were closed.

EC members will convene a meeting today to discuss ways to solve the election-related problems. EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn also is scheduled to meet this afternoon with Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who is in charge of the government's Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order.

An estimated 12 million people, or 25 per cent of all 48.7 million eligible voters, have failed to cast ballots - two million during advance voting on January 26 and another 10 million yesterday, according to an Election Commission (EC) official.

However, Somchai later said between 8 and 10 million eligible voters have been unable to cast their votes in more than 10,000 polling stations where voting was disrupted.

Traffic Police yesterday reported few cars and no congestion in Bangkok, which was unusual for a voting day.

In Bangkok, voting was successful in about 92 per cent of the polling stations, the EC said.


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