POLL RESULTS: EC to declare winners in ‘clean’ provinces in South

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Watchdog is still sifting through hundreds of other complaints, though

The Election Commission (EC) expects to endorse winning MP candidates in 31 provinces by Friday after not receiving complaints about electoral fraud there.

“If no complaints come forward in the next few days, we are going to officially declare them the MPs on Thursday or Friday,” said Ekkachai Warunprapha, secretary-general of the EC.

He explained that EC regulations require the body to make an official endorsement three days after the completion of vote counting in areas free of complaints.

Ekkachai did not identify the 31 complaint-free provinces.

EC apparently has backed off from its initial promise to endorse all MP candidates by today. Ekkachai yesterday announced instead that the EC would endorse all winning MPs by February 21 and that it would take retroactive action if it finds after that date that any of them violated electoral laws.

“In case we can’t rule on all electoral complaints by that day, we are going to endorse first and take action later,” he said.

EC is sorting through hundreds of complaints about electoral irregularities.

Ekkachai said 204 complaints had been filed since January 6, mostly from the northeast. The EC has dismissed 40 cases it deemed groundless and plans to rule on 88 others after investigation reports are finished. The rest of the cases are being investigated.

Ekkachai said EC will issue penalty cards to the candidates it rules violated the law. It will give yellow cards to candidates who can run for office again because evidence against them is not very solid, and red cards to those facing convincingly solid evidence of malfeasance. Red-carded candidates will be banned from running in future races.

“We may also need more evidence in some cases,” he said.

The EC has also received another batch of complaints charging that government officials violated the law by failing to remain neutral in the election, Ekkachai said.

More than 100 of the cases are pending. The EC has probed and dismissed 150 complaints.

“We have found convincing evidence in 180 cases already and we are investigating 132 other cases,” he said.

The EC also announced a new round of elections on Wednesday for voters in polling station 3 of Satun’s Constituency 2, polling station 8 in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Constituency 5, and polling stations 51 and 56 in Trang’s Constituency 1.

In Satun, the election must be held again. There were not enough ballot boxes for voters who showed up at polling station on Sunday.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, eligible voters are being asked to cast their ballots again after discovering that the number of ballots – 49 – was higher than the number of registered voters.

Discrepancies between voter turnout and the number of ballots cast were also detected in two polling stations in Trang.

Ekkachai said voter turnout across the country was about 70 percent, while the number of invalid ballots was between 3 and 5 percent.

One of the largest batches of invalid ballots came from Don Muang constituency, where the EC recorded 21,782 ballots in favour of MP candidate Karun Hosakul, who was disqualified from the race at the last minute. Many of those votes were made on advance ballots, filed just days before he was disqualified.

Published on February 08, 2005

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