A total of 366 polling stations will be set up throughout the province to make voting more convenient, and likely reduce traffic congestion in key voting areas, explained Nutthawat Wongitsaraphap, Director of the Phuket office of the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT).
Of the 294,296 eligible voters in Phuket, 144,721 are registered to vote for any of the 28 candidates contesting Phuket Constituency 1, which comprises Muang District, including Rassada, but excluding Koh Kaew and Rawai.
The remaining 149,575 are registered to cast their votes at any of 192 polling stations for any of the 31 candidates contesting Phuket Constituency 2, which comprises the remaining areas of Thalang and Kathu Districts, but also includes Koh Kaew, Rawai and Karon.
“We will have 172 polling stations set up in Phuket Constituency 1 and 192 stations set up in Phuket Constituency 2,” Mr Nutthawat explained.
“This should be enough. We have set the polling stations out to accommodate about 1,000 voters at each one,” he said.
Although voter turnout at the advance voting held nationwide last Sunday (Mar 17) averaged 86.98%, even reaching 90% in some places, voter turnout this Sunday is expected to be about 80%, Mr Nutthawat said.
“This is the general estimate for the whole country as given by the Office of the Election Commission of Thailand in Bangkok,” he explained.
Mr Nutthawat declined to give his own estimate of what the voter turnout in Phuket is likely to be. Of note, voting is compulsory by law in Thailand, and voter turnout in national elections over the past two decades has grown to reach over the 80% mark.
Turnout this weekend is expected to be high. The advance voting last weekend saw Phuket have the highest number of people registering to cast their votes early among all 14 provinces in Southern Thailand.
A total of 49,017 people living and working on the island registered to cast their votes for candidates in their home provinces elsewhere, with 40,855 actually turning out to cast their ballots – a turnout of 83.35%.
Only 286 Phuket residents registered to cast their votes early, with 265 upholding that promise – a turnout of 92.66%.
Polling stations will open be from 8am to 5pm.
“After the polling stations close at 5pm, the head of each polling station will count the ballots on site and report the results through the ‘rapid report’ app developed by the ECT,” Mr Nutthawat said.
“The app is safe and secure,” he assured.
Using the app will allow for local, regional and national counting centres to be updated simultaneously as quickly as possible, he added.
“Then ballot papers from each polling station will be sent to district counting headquarters,” Mr Nutthawat explained.
The ballots for Phuket Constituency 1 will be announced at Saphan Hin, while the ballots for Phuket Constituency 2 will be announced at Thalang Pranangsang School.
“The unofficial count for Phuket will be announced at each district headquarters as the counts come in on Sunday night,” Mr Nutthawat said.
“Outside votes will be counted separately, and the ECT in Bangkok will announce national election results on Monday morning,” he concluded.