Parliamentary panel votes for separate numbers in election ballots
The Joint Senate-House Committee considering the election law voted by 32 to 14 today (Wednesday) in favour of designating different ballot numbers for the constituency candidates and parties in the next general elections, tentatively scheduled for next year.
The committee’s decision means that, at the start of candidacy registration, parties contesting the poll will draw two lots. One will be for the number to be used by its constituency candidate and the other will be for the party, to be used across the country.
Voters will be given two ballots to cast, one for their choice of constituency candidate and the other for the party of their choice.
Opposition representatives on the joint committee favoured one number for the two ballots, claiming that it will be less confusing for voters because they can more easily remember just one number, to vote for both individual candidates and parties.
A committee member representing the opposition Thai Liberal Party, former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, told the committee that designating the same numbers for both ballots will help voters and make it easier for them to vote without confusion.
Pheu Thai MP Somkid Chuakhong said he believes some powerful figures in the government might have instructed senators and government MPs on how they should vote on this issue.
He also said that opposition parties will not give up, but will fight the case during the bill’s second reading in parliament.
The 32 votes in favour of different numbers for the two ballots include 14 votes from senators, 7 from cabinet members, 5 from the Palang Pracharath party, 3 from the Bhumjaithai party and one each from the Democrat, Chart Thai Pattana and Thai Economic parties.
According to the amended Constitution, the two-ballot electoral system will be applied in the next general election. There will be one ballot for 400 constituency seats and another for the 100 party-list seats in the lower House.
The proposed resumption of the two-ballot system is the only constitutional amendment draft accepted in Parliament, out of more than a dozen drafts proposed that seek to ensure people’s rights and limit the Senate’s power. The system is believed to benefit major parties in winning more seats.