Almost 7 million votes have already been cast in the Thai election. The political turmoil of recent years certainly seems to have enhanced electoral enthusiasm and there has been an unprecedented turnout of pre-poll voters on 14-15 December. Here is the first hand account of one of them, a resident of Chiang Mai now working in Bangkok:
I found that in Patumwan the voting place was not the third floor of the municipal building as it said on the website. I was lucky that the tuktuk took me to the school. The voting was open from 8 AM to 5 PM. I went a bit late, leaving my dorm at about 4.30, but in the end I had 15 minutes to spare.
When I got there I showed the municipal official my ID card. He asked where I came from and what my amphoe (district) was. He directed me to table 46 (because I came from Chiang Mai) to check my record.
Then I went to the second floor and two girls from the community committee gave me the two voting papers and said “after you make your choice, insert these two cards into the envelope and let the staff seal it and put it in the main box.” There was only one box in the room. I felt a bit strange because I knew that we made two choices and there should be two boxes.
After I made my vote, I put them in the envelope. A guy in a yellow shirt sealed it with his signature and visible tape. I put it in the ugly main box and left. Then I realised that the TV had said that out-of-area votes would be sent to their own districts. Before that they would be kept in a secure room with a guard, under close observation. I suppose my vote would be sent to Amphoe Muang in Chiang Mai as my village is in the same voting district as the centre of Chiang Mai. That’s way they kept the votes in the same envelope to avoid any confusion.
It was a bit tense as there were many people in military uniforms sitting about. I felt uncomfortable to take photos, especially in the voting room. There were hundreds of staff there but it was very smooth because they all ask you the same questions and direct you where you need to go. There were many police cars and official vans. Maybe it is because the police station is opposite the school. After the voting closed the cars were ready to move the boxes to the main post office for despatch.
All the party information is displayed on boards. The first official who showed me to table 46 asked me “Do you know who you will vote for?” If I didn’t know he said that there is information about candidates from every part of Thailand on the board.
I asked an official what percent of the people who had registered for a pre-poll vote came to vote. She said close to 90%, and I could see on the name list that most had been crossed out with red pen. [The Nation reports that the turn out for absentee voters was 91%.]