EC defers decisions on polling problems

The Election Commission was not able to make any decisions on various problems concerning the Feb 2 election at its meeting Thursday, but expects to get the answers needed on Friday, commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said.

Mr Somchai, who is in charge of electoral management, said the only resolution made at Thursday's meeting was for the EC to act on behalf of some 10 million people who were not able to vote on Jan 26 and Feb 2 due to many problems including the blocking of polling units. They would be able to keep their right to vote intact by notifying the Local Administration Department's director-general, in his capacity as director of the Central Registration Office.

By doing this, the 10 million people would not have to lodge a complaint by themselves, he said.

The EC could not yet decide on what to do with the following problems - the 28 constituencies with no candidates, the 12,000 polling units where voting was cancelled, the date for a new round of advance voting in lieu of Jan 26 and the 16 constituencies with only one candidate.

Because of the legal complications over these problems, if the EC made a decision without a thorough examination of all aspects it could lead to lawsuits being filed for the Feb 2 election to be nullified, he said.

Therefore, the EC would hold a meeting with members of its legal advisory committee on Friday.  It was believed the meeting would get the answers to all problems.

Moreover, on Feb 14, the EC would invite caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana, caretaker PM's Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, Pheu Thai's strategies committee member Pokin Polakul and former EC member Sodsri Sattayatham to a meeting to explore ways of holding a successful election in the future.

The EC might later invite diplomats of various countries and representatives of international organisations to a meeting to explain to them all unusual factors surrounding Thailand's elections and what it would do in the future.

The director-general of the Public Relations Department and director of the National Broadcasting of Thailand (NBT) television station, or Channel 11, might also be invited to discuss public relations work to make the people see the importance of elections, Mr Somchai said.

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