Image credit: Gun Sangtong

Liveblog: Thailand’s irregular election, election irregularities

After five years of military rule, Thailand heads to the polling booths. Follow this page for live updates. All times are in AEDT.

16.32

With the tally at the cusp of being finalised this afternoon, still reports emerging of constituencies where tallying makes no sense. Pravit Rojanaphruk notes 218% voter participation in a district in Sukhothai.

16.30

The question on everyone’s lips is the calculation of party-list seats. Currently the EC’s tallying is paused on 94.57 per cent of constituencies. Under the constitution, once the 95% of constituencies have been calculated, the EC must calculate party list seats.

16.26

The latest numbers provided by the Election Commission still are not adding up.

16.17

Over 300,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the removal of the Election Commission.

16.07

Latest seat estimations based on Election Commission tallying as of 11AM Bangkok time.

16.04

A screenshot of tallying by the Election Commission at a point where 63% of votes had been counted shows a number of provinces where the total number of good ballots, spoiled ballots and ballots that did not select a candidate far exceed the number of eligible voters.

Image source: Public Facebook page ธนวัฒน์ วงค์ไชย – Tanawat Wongchai

15.56

Under the Thai constitution, the Election Commission’s delay in announcing the final tally may be illegitimate as there exists a section mandating the continuous counting of votes.

15.54

Yesterday evening, information released by the Election Commission on a district in Surin inexplicably recorded almost 200% voter participation. More than 220,000 votes—or more than all registered voters in the district—had allegedly voted for a “Phuen Thai” candidate (not Pheu Thai!). 

By 10PM Bangkok time the same day, the Election Commission revised the vote-count for the same district to show a victory for Palang Pracharat.

15.17

Last night at 5pm, the person administering this liveblog went to take a nap, assuming that the Election Commission (EC) would tally 95 per cent of votes by 9PM and that it wouldn’t be useful to engage in punditry for the four hours that remained. In light of extraordinary polling irregularities being reported, the liveblog is back up and oriented towards documenting these until the Election Commission produces a final and official vote-count, from when it’ll turn to the jostling of coalition formation.

As a small site (and only one person on hand to run this blog), New Mandala cannot hope to compete with large news-sites when breaking news—but hopefully there is some value in some of the finer details the election for some of our readers. For now, a brief summary of developments that transpired during vote-counting:

(1) As of time of publishing, the EC has unofficially tallied 94 of votes with Palang Pracharat allegedly claiming the most votes (7,698,115), followed by Pheu Thai (7,229,526) and then Anakot Mai (Future Forward) (5,311,458). How far these numbers should be taken seriously remains difficult to determine however:

  • More than a million ballots have been determined as spoiled so far, raising questions about why so many ballots have been voided. Ballots voided unfairly have the potential to make a difference given that Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai are allegedly neck and neck. It remains unclear whether the last lot of overseas votes (see liveblog) have been voided because they were not delivered to district vote-counting officials on time.
  • Unofficial tallies being put forward by different media are producing different numbers to the Election Commission and it was noted that the Election Commission’s vote counts for parties in various constituencies inexplicably fluctuated throughout the night.
  • There have been several cases of completely illogical calculations from the Election Commission, such as in Constituencies where the number of votes cast for Palang Pracharat reportedly outnumber registered voters. Stay tuned for a record of some of these.
  • The EC is claiming only 65.96% voter turnout, which many are finding inexplicable or incredible given expectations there would be high voter turnout (the EC itself expected 80%).

(2) In an extraordinary move, the EC declined to confirm the tally by the close of the night, as it has done with previous elections—joking that it did not have a calculator on hand.

(3) While the competition between Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai appears tight, Future Forward will certainly emerge with far more lower-house seats than many expected, easily coming in third in the election. The significance of the outpouring of votes for Future Forward appears a result of both voters’ ideology (Future Forward trumped Pheu Thai in some constituencies) and the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart  voters in constituencies without a Pheu Thai candidate would have voted in greater numbers of Future Forward), but more analysis of this quite incredible development is needed. The clear loser of the election was the Democrat Party, which extraordinarily may emerge with the fifth-most votes. Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva resigned.

21.51

Wassana Nanuam, a journalist from Bangkok Post, reporting from vote-counting in Dusit district, an area with a dense population of conscripts, military units and soldiers’ families notes, “Unbelievable that a soldiers’ constituency has a not insignificant number of notes for Anakot Mai … even though Phalang Pracharat is leading, followed by Pheu Thai and Democrats following”.

 

21.37

As a third point of comparison, Super Poll predicts 163 seats for Pheu Thai, 96 for Phalang Pracharat, 77 for the Democrats, 59 for Bhumjai Thai, 40 for Anakot Mai and 14 for Seri Ruam Thai.

21.28

Vote counting in Samut Songkhram province

Image source: permission given

21.16

Another pre-election poll as a point of comparison: the Dusit Poll predicts 173 seats for Pheu Thai, 96 for Phalang Pracharat, 88 for the Democrats and 49 for Anakot Mai (Future Forward).

21.13

Pre-election poll results released by Bangkok University. Different parties most popular in different regions of Thailand, with Phalang Pracharat apparently most popular in Bangkok. Central Thailand split between Phalang Pracharat, Pheu Thai and Anakot Mai. The North easily still a stronghold of Pheu Thai support. Phalang Pracharat and the Democrats popular in the South. Apparently Prayut is most desired PM.

20.59

Polling is over and counting begins! The Election Commission predicts the results of some constituencies will be ready by 6PM, and that some 95 per cent of ballots will be counted by 9PM Bangkok time—by when the rough makeup of the lower house should be clear. Stay tuned.

Image source: permission given

20.20

Images released of the backdrop to Pheu Thai’s post-election press conference. It says: “Thank you for all your support. Pheu Thai will fulfill what we promised the people”.

20.11

More than 300 residents of Tak province gathered to boycott voting in protest that authorities have yet to install electricity in their homes. Police have gone in to negotiate.

20.05

With only one more hour of polling, some viral election funnies:

“If you don’t help buy my oranges, I’ll vote for Prayuth”

Image appears to have been taken in a temple-turned-polling station. The board being used to display candidate profiles still reads “pray for the deceased”.

19.28

Still more recordings of large groups of uniformed military lining up to vote. Netizens fear that the video below shows one officer checking how the others vote.

18.41

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Election Commission has clarified that the last lot of overseas votes only arrived in Thailand this morning, and remain to be sent to the constituencies they belong to. If this is not done by 5PM, the votes may be voided.

18.30

Deputy Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul has warned against protests after polling stations are closed, claiming these will be in violation of the ban on political gatherings. INN News reports the deputy police chief claims authorities have prepared space for the detainment of violators of the law that can accommodate 1,000 people. Meanwhile, Matichon news reports that Srivara made warnings that the authorities are monitoring hashtags for violations of the law, which may be a reference to the trending #โตเเล้วเลือกเองได้.

18.15

The Deputy Secretary General of the Election Commission has reportedly expressed worries that ballots filled out as part of advance voting will not be counted in the legally mandated time frame.

17.37

A resource on Phalang Pracharat’s co-optation of MPs from other parties this election.

17.09

Sweltering afternoon heat means a bit of a lull—a great time to catch up with New Mandala’s expert analysis on the elections on our Thailand homepage. Here’s a roundup of five pieces from experts, civil society and activists that get to the heart of the stakes.

Ungoogleable Questions about Thailand’s Elections, with Tewarit Maneechai

Our interview with Prachatai Editor-in-Chief Tewarit Maneechai is a step up from your average “Thai Elections 101” primer.

Thailand Unsettled #3: Political Deadlock with Jatuporn Prompan and Suriyasai Katasila

A mashup of an interview with the current chairman of the UDD (the largest red shirt group) and a former yellow-shirt leader. Their contrasting definitions of “political deadlock” provide both insight into how it is that some groups in Thailand regard coups as reasonable political action, while others have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of democratic participation.

What if Thailand’s junta can’t control the military?

Paul Chambers argues that even if Prayut emerges as prime minister after tomorrow’s elections, his authority within the military has long been waning. What happens if the General emerges victorious from an election whose rules were bent in his favour, only to find himself unable to rely on the loyalty of the armed forces which first brought him to power via coup?

Thailand Unsettled #4: The Deep South with Deep South Watch

Romadon Panjor from Deep South Watch reminds us of the stakes involved in the elections for ongoing violent conflict in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces.

Palang Pracharat Party: Can Old Tricks Win in a New Political Landscape?

Finally, fresh of the press yesterday, Prajak Kongkirati profiles Phalang Pracharat, the party which has nominated junta leader General Prayut as its prime ministerial candidate. Prajak makes a case that the fragility of democracy in Thailand can be explained by the following feature of royalist-conservative elite politics: “the effective seizure of power through coups, but the clumsy failure to maintain it through elections”.

 

16.58

The Election Commission has said it will look into allegations that pens are out of ink at some polling booths. In the public statement below, the Commission calls for understanding that local officials at polling booths are not directly overseen by the Commission and that the best they can do is investigate the allegations.

16.30

Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Sudarat Keyuraphan has cast her ballot. On Friday at Pheu Thai’s final rally before the close of campaigning, she urged voters to vote only for Pheu Thai, saying that a landslide victory for the party would be the only way to oust the NCPO.

 

 

16.22

Less than five hours of polling remain. The Election Commission has reported that preliminary results based on 95 per cent of ballots will be available approximately 4 hours after polls close (based on the Commission’s estimation that there will be 80% voter turnout of 51,205,624 eligible voters). The party with the most votes should then be apparent by the close of the evening.

16.17

Khaosod English reports that police have arrested two policeman suspected of vote-buying in Nakhon Pathom province. One of the suspects was a local administrator who was alleged found with up to 16,000 baht in cash and a list of clients. The other was a district official. Both denied the accusations and did not identify the parties they are affiliated with.

 

16.12

Getting hitched is no excuse not to vote! An image of a bride voting in Satun province is going viral.

Image source: Public image posted by Wissanee Changlek

16.00

Reports emerging from several polling booths that candidate information for Thai Raksa Chart candidates remain on display, even though the party was recently dissolved dissolved by the Constitutional Court. It remains unclear whether Thai Raksa Chart candidates remain listed on ballots in these constituencies. However, the dissolution of the party has already voided some votes, given the ruling came after the opening of voting for overseas voters.

Image source: WeWatch public Facebook page

15.50

Voters are taking to social media to record irregularities in candidate information prepared by the Election Commission, adding to an already very long list of the EC’s blunders. “Are these candidates twins?” jokes Twitter user @Breeze_Lonely.

15.44

A post on Facebook has reported, attaching photos, that polling booth officials in three booths in Nakhon Ratchasima province have put up white paper covering the names and faces of Anakot Mai (Future Forward) candidates, claiming that their eligibility has been voided. Anakot Mai dispute they have been voided.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK

PHOTO: FACEBOOK

15.09

Photo are emerging of groups of military conscripts and uniformed soldiers lining up en mass to vote.

15.03

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and former PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban have both cast their ballots. Pheu Thai first-ranked prime ministerial candidate Sudarat Keyuraphan is travelling to the polling booth.

15.00

An hour ago, Army Chief Apirat Kongsompong exercised his right to vote in the Chatuchak constituency.

Image source: public Facebook image, user Wassana Nanuam

14.54

Pheu Thai’s second-ranked prime ministerial candidate Chadchart Sittipunt scooters in to vote. Why not?

Image source: Twitter user @8td

14.38

Great to see Google and Facebook encouraging eligible votes to get to the ballot booth.

14.30

A number of prominent military officials have exercised their right to vote—including junta leader General Prayut, in the Phaya Thai constituency.

14.23

92,837 polling stations are open across the country! To sum up the immediate leadup to election day:

(1) Last night, an unusual royal announcement was broadcast on all television stations calling upon the country to vote for “good people”. In response to the paternal message, the hashtag #โตแล้วเลือกเองได้ (“we’re grown up and choose for ourselves”) is trending on Twitter.

(2) Former princess Ubolratana, whose entry into electoral politics last month was aborted last month by another royal announcement, conspicuously attended the wedding of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s daughter.

(3) General Prayut pulled all the stops with a final social media post before the official closure of campaigning

Caption reads: “Books are the friends of us all”

Background reading

Thailand Unsettled #4: The Deep South (with Deep South Watch)

How will the 2019 elections bear upon violent conflict in the Deep South?

What if Thailand’s junta can’t control the military?

General Prayuth may lead a government after elections this month, but his authority within the armed forces has long been waning.

Thailand Unsettled #3: Political Deadlock (with Jatuporn Prompan and Suriyasai Katasila)

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan and former yellow-shirt leader Suriyasai Katasila agree—pessimistically—that Thailand's coming elections are merely one stage in a cycle of political instability.

Thailand’s first elections in the post-Bhumibol era

On the prospects for a durable authoritarian politics after the 'Bhumibol Consensus'.

Ungoogleable questions about Thailand’s elections, with Tewarit Maneechai

Understanding Thailand's elections may require looking beyond national politics.

Thai politics goes to court. Again.

The Constitutional Court's decision on Thai Raksa Chart is likely to be swift but unlikely to be impartial.

Q&A: Supalak Ganjanakhundee on Thailand’s week of chaos

The editor of "The Nation" talks to New Mandala.

Why Thailand’s generals fail to co-opt elections

History and electoral reality suggest that the 2019 elections will deliver another “wasted coup”.

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