Thais Must Provide Reasons for Not Voting or Risk Losing Rights

The Election Commission this morning issued a reminder to eligible voters: those who didn’t cast a vote must present a justification or they could potentially lose their voting privileges.

The voter turnout was about 75%, which was similar to the previous election.

However, the commission has announced that eligible voters who did not vote must present a justification within a week or risk losing certain rights related to electoral participation.

In Thailand, voting is regarded as not just a privilege, but also an obligation, and the primary consequences for non-compliance include being barred from running for office for two years.

The commission advised non-voters to submit a form (Sor.Sor. 1/8) or a letter with their ID card number, home address, and the reason for not voting, to their district or local registrar either in person or through registered mail.

They also have the option to notify online using the Smart Vote application or website. The commission recognizes several valid reasons for not voting:

-Having urgent and necessary business that required traveling to a distant location

-Being ill and unable to travel

-Having a disability, physical impairment, or advanced age making one unable to travel

-Being abroad and unable to request permission to vote from afar

-Residing more than 100 kilometers from their registered polling station

-Unforeseen circumstances or other valid reasons to be evaluated by the commission

So, does this mean non-voters will be sent to a so-called democracy jail? Not exactly. Those who cannot provide an acceptable explanation won’t face legal consequences but they will be stripped of five rights:

-The right to file an objection to the election of members of parliament

-The right to run for national or local office.

-The right to seek appointment to the senate or as a village head.

-The right to hold a politically appointed position

-The right to hold various positions in the administrative bureaucracy

These rights will be restored after a two-year period, provided voters do not miss another election within that time frame.