'Confusing' Thai election vote count caused by media: Election Commission

'Confusing' Thai election vote count caused by media: Election Commission

Election Commission deputy secretary-general Nat Laosrisahasakul
Election Commission deputy secretary-general Nat Laosrisahasakul speaks during a press conference in Bangkok on Mar 25, 2019 after Thailand's general election. (Photo: AFP)

BANGKOK: The Thai Election Commission (EC) blamed media organisations for what is largely seen as a confusing vote count marred by alleged irregularities hours after tens of millions of Thais cast their vote to elect a new government on Sunday (Mar 24).

According to its deputy secretary-general Nat Laosisawakul, the commission was merely responsible for distributing raw data to media organisations as votes trickled in and was not the cause of last night's confusion.

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"It's the media organisations themselves which applied the data and presented it in graphics. If you noticed last night, each channel reported the data differently and that depends on each outlet's ability," he told reporters on Monday following widespread complaints about the EC's performance.

"We only give the media our raw data. How it is presented depends on each station and channel. When we received, say, 20 per cent of data from more than 90,000 polling stations, we would send it to the media. Then when we received 30 per cent of data, we would do the same - bit by bit. The data would be received by the media's server and distributed. That's why the reported information varied."

The Sunday vote count began after polls closed at 5pm local time. Hours into the process, a number of irregular results started to emerge from different polling stations across the country. 

Political observers shared on social media various images and information that had raised their suspicion towards the commission's vote count.

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One Facebook user questioned the number of ballots cast in Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand's northeast. In a photo posted on her Facebook page, the number of voters who had cast their ballots was 913,575. 

However, the total number of ballots - including 433,966 qualified ballots, 475,591 disqualified ballots and 843,582 ballots cast for nobody - exceeded the number of participating voters by 839,564.

In other provinces such as Chiang Rai, the number of disqualified ballots were higher than those of qualified ones by more than half. There were also other reports about what political followers viewed as an unjust vote count.

On Monday, the EC deputy secretary-general asked the public to lodge complaints if they have witnessed any irregularities. 

Meanwhile, it has published unofficial results of the Mar 24 election, listing names of MP candidates who have won in 350 constituencies nationwide. The official results will be released by May 9.

ฺBased on the unofficial results published on its website, anti-army Pheu Thai party has the highest number of MPs from 350 constituencies:

  • Pheu Thai - 137
  • Palang Pracharat - 97
  • Bhumjaithai Party - 39
  • Democrat Party - 33
  • Future Forward Party - 30
  • Prachachart Party - 7
  • Chartthai Pattana Party - 6
  • Ruam Palang Prachachart Thai Party - 1

The EC will receive documents from its provincial branches containing data of the votes in 350 constituencies across Thailand by Mar 26. The organisation will then publish 95 per cent of the submitted raw data as stated by the law.

Another 150 "party list" seats in the lower house will be allocated under a complex proportional representation formula.

According to the EC, the vote count has been completed and what remains to be done is the announcement of the results. So far, there have been about 110 complaints related to alleged irregularities.

Source: CNA/hm

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