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Thailand’s Election Commission Warns Over Selfies at the Ballot Box

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) is warning voters not to rip ballots, take ballot selfies or bet on the election results on Sunday or they will be jailed.

The Election Commission also says it is prepared to pay rewards of up to 100,000 baht to people who expose vote-buying.

As well, members were quick to scotch rumours circulating on social media that voters in some polling stations would be given pens containing vanishing ink.

EC secretary-general Jarungwit Phumma on Saturday encouraged voters not to rush into voting booths after receiving their ballots. Instead, he said, they should read the details on the ballot papers carefully before marking them. Some voters in the past have torn apart ballots after marking them in error, and this is against the election law.

Pol Col Jarungwit also warned voters not to take selfie photos with ballots or ask other people to take photos of them with their ballots. Betting on the election results is also banned.

The EC said it was 100% ready for the poll, for which it was given a budget of 5.8 billion baht to stage. All election-related materials, including ballots, ballot boxes and pens were delivered to polling stations on Saturday.

The fact that many people believed rumours about vanishing ink underscores public suspicion about the impartiality of the EC, which has been accused of going easy on the junta-aligned Palang Pracharath Party in particular.

EC staff check election-related materials delivered to polling station on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s vote. -Photo Surachai Piragsa

In any case, Pol Col Jarungwit said he had asked provincial election panels to inspect pens that would be given to voters to allay any worries.

The EC will also offer cash rewards of 100,000 baht to anyone who supplied evidence about vote buying, he said.

The night before an election for decades has been referred to as “the night of the howling dogs”, when canvassers for candidates go around handing cash to voters.

“People can use their cameras to take photos of those who come to buy votes. If people have any clues or evidence (about vote buying) that will lead to a new round of elections, they will be given a cash reward of 100,000 baht,” said the EC secretary-general.

Authorities are making every effort to make sure that everyone in the country, even in the most remote areas, will be able to exercise their right to vote.