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Senate election fraud claims spark call for investigation

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Election manipulation allegations have surfaced in the recent Senate race, with claims that some candidates were favoured through collusion. Senator-elect Nanthana Nanthawarophas, representing a media professional group, stated that over 100 losing candidates intend to file a complaint with the Election Commission (EC), urging an investigation into suspected vote rigging.

Nanthana highlighted that the top seven candidates with the highest votes congregated in groups and avoided interaction with other candidates during the voting process.

“There were acts of conspiracy to manipulate the voting results by some groups to favour specific candidates. The EC must investigate if political parties were behind it.”

While Nanthana did not advocate for the outright nullification of the Senate election due to these allegations, she emphasised the necessity for the EC to investigate and take appropriate action against those involved in the purported irregularities. She expressed her reluctance to see the caretaker Senate, appointed by the coup makers, remain in office for an extended period.

Nanthana also commented on the complexity of the Senate election process, which she believes was tainted by fraud claims. She proposed that future Senate elections should allow for direct elections by the people.

Caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn took to Facebook to reveal that certain individuals were allegedly hired to participate in the election process merely to vote for candidates supported by specific interest groups at various levels—district, provincial, and national.

Somchai detailed that district-level candidates received 4,000 baht each for registration fees, health checkups, travel expenses, and photo costs. If they advanced to the provincial level, they were given an additional 2,000 to 3,000 baht to cover hotel stays in provincial downtown areas on the eve of the provincial-level election.

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“But as it happened, these people did not vote for themselves, but instead, almost unanimously, voted for certain candidates who each ended up among the top 10 being selected as senators in each of the 20 groups.”

Further allegations

Yingcheep Atchanont, the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw) manager, also shared his observations on Facebook. He pointed out that Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former National Human Rights Commission member and a winning candidate representing a civil society group, received fewer votes than some lesser-known candidates from Buriram.

“One candidate from Buriram was a former school director while another candidate was a former village health volunteer also from Buriram.

“They are high on the list of the top 10 with the most votes. They gained more votes than Angkhana, who is No.9 and lower on the list.”

The allegations have sparked calls for a thorough investigation by the EC to ensure the integrity of the election process and address any collusion or vote manipulation that may have occurred, reported Bangkok Post.

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