iLaw addresses Election Day complaints

iLaw addresses Election Day complaints

Curbs on photography at polling stations topped the list of concerns, says watchdog group

An election official unfolds a ballot and calls out the vote at a polling station at Banbangkapi School in Bangkok on May 14. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
An election official unfolds a ballot and calls out the vote at a polling station at Banbangkapi School in Bangkok on May 14. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Restrictions on photographing the ballot counting at polling stations on Election Day were the primary concern among the complaints filed with the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw).

iLaw, along with other watchdog groups such as Vote62, Rocket Media Lab and Opendream, held a press conference on Saturday to present their observations about the May 14 general election.

Anon Chawalawan, representing iLaw, said the observations focused on ensuring transparency in the voting process. The findings were categorised into issues encountered on Election Day itself and during the counting of advanced ballots.

A total of 375 online complaints were registered with iLaw. The most common complaint was citizens being prohibited from taking photographs at polling stations, accounting for 81 out of the total complaints.

The election law allows people to take photographs of the ballot-counting process for future reference and verification, as long as doing so does not impede the work of election officers.

In addition, 41 complaints were related to polling station staff, ranging from officials neglecting to verify voters’ identities to a lack of preparedness in providing guidance.

Several complaints noted errors or missing details of candidates at polling stations, as well as the appearance of candidates who had passed away over 20 years ago.

While iLaw deployed a task force of 150 individuals to handle complaints regarding advanced voting, they had to collaborate with We Watch to investigate reports from members of the Move Forward Party, who claimed that some advanced votes arrived after the counting had concluded. However, We Watch subsequently confirmed that the votes were indeed counted.

Isolated incidents observed during the process included polling stations being provided with pens of the wrong colour or errors on the ballot forms.

Mr Anon added that these complaints are still under investigation, but no ballots have been invalidated for these reasons so far.

iLaw said it spent six months preparing to observe the elections and encouraging volunteer observers to sign on. On Election Day, more than 39,000 volunteers from all over the country participated. 

It also made a series of recommendations to the Election Commission for following up the current vote and for future elections.

It noted that while the law gives the EC 60 days from May 14 to certify the vote, it should be done much more quickly. In constituencies where there is no suspicion of corruption, official results could be announced as soon as May 22, it said.