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Early vote met with euphoria

Sunday’s advance voting saw huge crowds waiting in long queues to vote at polling stations nationwide, as an estimated 75% of all registered early voters nationwide turned up to cast their vote ahead of Sunday’s general election.

politics
By Bangkok Post

Monday 18 March 2019, 09:11AM


Voters lined up for two hours to vote at the Matthayom Ban Bang Kapi School in Bangkok’s Bang Kapi district. At this centre alone, 61,000-plus voters waited in line to vote. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Voters lined up for two hours to vote at the Matthayom Ban Bang Kapi School in Bangkok’s Bang Kapi district. At this centre alone, 61,000-plus voters waited in line to vote. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Election Commission (EC) deputy secretary-general Nat Laosisawakul said that more than 2.6 million registered advance voters nationwide participated in the advance voting, which was held from 8am to 5pm.

Voters crowded into schools, parking lots and temples across Thailand on Sunday, eager to cast an early ballot a week before the country’s first election in eight years.

Advance voting is usually a tepid affair, but on Sunday excitement was high as voters turned up in droves to polling stations.

Bangkok's Bang Kapi district recorded the highest number of registered advance voters at 61,401 -- 82% of which turned up to the cast their ballots.

Since a 2014 coup ousted then-premier Yingluck Shinawatra, the junta has repeatedly postponed democratic electionsmuch to the chagrin of the public.

I finally have a chance to cast my vote as I’ve waited for so long,” said 48-year-old Paka Kaengkhiew as she stood in line in front of the Phra Khanong district office in Bangkok.

In Dusit districthome to military offices and government buildingsvoters crowded into a schoolyard before a polling station there opened.

People dressed in their work clothesmilitary uniforms, hospital scrubs and more casual attirewaited patiently to cast their ballot, aided by student helpers.

At 9am Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the Privy Council, arrived at the school. Watched by local and international media, the 98-year-old former premier and statesman was pushed in a wheelchair into a classroom beneath a portrait of the late King Rama IX, before walking the final steps to a polling booth.

More than 51 million people are eligible to vote in the official March 24 election, which will be held under a new military-scripted constitution.

Analysts say the new electoral system favours the army-aligned party fronted by junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is running to be civilian prime minister after a government is formed.

But voters on Sunday still held on to hopes for change.

I vote today in the hope for better change," said Mart Bupa, 53.

 

 

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