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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

Overseas voting almost done

Polling station staff undergo training in how to carry out their tasks on Election Day. The training is held at the auditorium of Sai Mai district office in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

More than 80% of Thais living abroad who are eligible to do so have reportedly showed up to cast their votes ahead of the May 14 general election, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Kanchana Patarachoke, director-general of the MFA's Department of Information, said 115,139 people registered for advanced voting overseas from March 25-April 9. This compares to 119,313 who registered before the previous election in 2019.

Most Thais who registered were reported to be in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.

Each embassy and consulate have decided how to conduct the votes in their respective country or region, such as having on-site polling booths or letting the votes be mailed by post, based on local conditions.

During the advanced voting from April 28-30, bags of ballots were sent to Thailand by embassies and consulates in Los Angeles and Washington in the US; Savannakhet in Laos; Xian in China; Kathmandu in Nepal; Prague in the Czech Republic; Abuja in Nigeria; Kuwait; Karachi in Pakistan; Singapore; Penang and Kota Bharu in Malaysia; Doha in Qatar; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam; Manama in Bahrain; and Cairo in Egypt.

As of Wednesday, over 80% of eligible Thais living abroad had exercised their right to vote at almost all of the election sites, Ms Kanchana said.

All of the ballots will be counted in Thailand. To ensure they arrive in the country on time, an Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS) will be used to track them. Transfer procedures are also being conducted via a real-time checklist.

But the embassies and consulates in some countries that do not have direct flights to Thailand will transfer their bags of ballots independently or send them to an airport where direct flights are running to the kingdom.

Ms Kanchana said government agencies had notified Thais who are voting by mail that they can send their ballots to embassies or consulates by themselves to ensure they all reach Thailand as scheduled.

She said mailing votes could be problematic due to delays in certain countries' postal systems or because the senders did not write the destination address clearly enough.

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