Thais warned of curtailed rights for those who did not vote

Photo: Election Commission of Thailand
Photo: Election Commission of Thailand

Eligible voters warned that anyone who didn’t vote should provide a reason why or risk losing their voting rights, the Election Commission said this morning. 

Though turnout was roughly the same – about 75% – as in the previous election, the commission said eligible voters unable to exercise their duty yesterday must provide a reason for not doing so within seven days ending Sunday or lose a number of related rights to participate.

Though Thailand considers voting not just a right but also a duty, the main penalties for not doing involve disqualification from seeking office for two years.

The commission said voters who did not participate should using a form (Sor.Sor. 1/8) or by submitting a letter indicating their ID card number and home address along with their reason for not voting, to the district or local registrar in person or via registered mail.

They can also file their notification online via the Smart Vote application and website.

Valid reasons for not voting include:

  1. Having urgent and necessary business that required traveling to a distant location.
  2. Being ill and unable to travel
  3. Having a disability, physical impairment, or advanced age making one unable to travel
  4. Being abroad and unable to request permission to vote from afar
  5. Residing more than 100 kilometers from their registered polling station
  6. Unforeseen circumstances or other valid reasons to be evaluated by the commission

So will non-voters go to democracy jail? Not quite. Those unable to provide a valid reason won’t be on the hook legally, but they will lose five rights:

  1. The right to file an objection to the election of members of parliament.
  2. The right to run for national or local office.
  3. The right to seek appointment to the senate or as a village head.
  4. The right to hold a politically appointed position
  5. The right to hold various positions in the administrative bureaucracy

All rights will be restored after two years unless voters fail to participate in another election during that time.

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