Ballot papers have been torn in various provinces during the recent election, yet it seems that most violators, the majority of which were elderly and had health issues, insisted they had no ill intentions and acted out of confusion. Following the closing of the polls, the Royal Thai Police’s election coordination center received reports that around 20 voters had torn up ballot papers across the nation.
In Hat Yai, in the province of Songkhla, a 76-year-old retiree accidentally tore her green ballot for the party-list system into two pieces, as she did not see a purple ballot and assumed only one was used. Her eyesight issue led her to ask the election officials for help, and she subsequently faced a charge of violating the election law.
Meanwhile, in Thalang district of Phuket, a 77-year-old man tore his marked ballot papers under the impression that he was meant to do so. It was later revealed that he suffered from an ischemic stroke, resulting in some memory loss. The man was initially charged with damaging the ballot, but his family was instructed to bring proof of his medical condition to the police and provincial election office.
Two incidents of ballot-paper tearing occurred in the northeastern province of Udon Thani. The first case involved an 84-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease who mistakenly believed he lost his purple ballot, so he tore the green one to place two separate parts into both ballot boxes at the Nong Wua So district polling station. In Kut Chap district, a 61-year-old man ripped a purple ballot after failing to find his desired voting number. He asked poll officials for a new ballot and was informed that his actions were illegal. The voter admitted to being confused between the constituency and party-list ballots, and was not aware that tearing it violated election laws.
Samut Prakan reported two cases from an 87-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man at two different voting stations, both experiencing Alzheimer’s disease, and both unintentionally damaging their ballot papers.
A 21-year-old first-time voter in Muang district of Krabi tore both of his ballot papers after marking them, placing the marked sections into ballot boxes while keeping the rest. When questioned, he explained that he attempted to ask the election officials for guidance but they did not hear him, resulting in him erroneously assuming that he should tear the ballots before submitting the marked parts.
Finally, election officials in Sung Men district of Phrae deemed an intoxicated 36-year-old voter, who fell in a polling booth and consequently damaged one of the ballot papers, responsible for an accident. This incident was also included in a police report.
Despite these unfortunate occurrences, it is essential to recognize that most of these cases were fueled by misunderstanding and lack of information, rather than an actual intent to disrupt the voting process. Proper communication and guidance, especially for elderly and first-time voters, can aid in preventing such issues in the future.