More than 70 voters spoiled their ballots at polling stations across the country yesterday, some out of ignorance, others because they were under the influence of alcohol.
An 83-year-old woman in Nakhon Si Thammarat claimed she thought she had to deliberately destroy her ballot because she’d ticked the wrong party number. “She actually asked the officials for a new ballot,” Deputy National Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said.
Voters are allowed only one. Srivara said that, in another case, a man thought he was supposed to tear the ballot along its folding lines.
“Police have already pressed charges against some people, but the Election Commission is handling most of these cases,” he said.
In Samut Sakhon, a reportedly inebriated Sukul Chunting, 52, was charged with deliberately spoiling his ballot.
If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years or fined up to Bt100,000 (S$4,286), as well as lose his voting rights for 10 years. Sukul denied he intentionally damaged the ballot. “My hands were shaking so heavily when I opened the ballot that I accidentally tore it,” he said.
He was subjected to a blood test, which allegedly found his alcohol level to be quite high. Police claim he admitted that he began drinking at 5pm on Saturday and continued through the night
Lt-General Srivara said people with records of mental disorder were involved in some instances of torn ballots.
Otherwise, he said, the first election since the 2014 proceeded smoothly without disturbance. No violence was reported at any polling station, even in the insurgency-plagued southern border provinces. Nor were there any reports of political rallies being illegally held in the immediate run-up to the election, he said.
The Royal Thai Police were prepared to respond swiftly if any prohibited activity took place. “If political rallying takes place or there’s any disturbance, we will act fast,” Srivara said at midday yesterday. “There are sufficient facilities to detain anyone arrested, even if their numbers are in the tens of thousands.”
He said there were four complaints of vote buying, one about vote selling, six about violation of the prohibition on sale of alcohol, and seven complaints about voters taking photographs of marked ballots.
“There is also a complaint against a police officer over a lack of [political] neutrality,” Srivara said. Srivara said the Technology Crime Suppression Division was monitoring the internet, alert for hashtags that might signal violations of the lese majeste laws and for betting on the election outcome.