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Nonthaburi Senate Election Controversy: Allegations of Fraud and Vote Rigging Ignite Debate

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With the evening sun dipping beneath the horizon, a wave of candidates who didn’t make the final cut for the Senate election ambled out of the polling place. The venue, Impact Muang Thong Thani, was abuzz on Wednesday night, culminating the search for 200 fresh faces in the Senate—a quest clouded by allegations of electoral misconduct. Official results? They’re set to be unveiled next Tuesday, and the Election Commission (EC) promises thorough investigations into the brewing storm of fraud accusations.

The grand final saw 2,989 candidates who had triumphed in the previous provincial elections vie for a coveted spot, all under the same intra- and inter-group voting system, held at Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi. Beyond the chosen 200 senators, an additional 100 were put on standby, ready to step up in the event of disqualifications or other unforeseen circumstances. These 200 successful candidates hail from 20 diverse professional groups, each holding a quota of 10 senators.

Since the election marathon started on June 9, the EC has been playing whack-a-mole with countless reports hinting at attempts to manipulate the results. From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the quieter corners of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, and Pathum Thani, the narrative of unusual activities has persisted. Reports suggested that certain candidate groups were rendezvousing for orchestrated activities, drawing suspicion of possible collusion.

The EC has been vigilant, their eyes firmly set on these shadowy maneuvers right from the district-level elections. Already knee-deep in probing alleged misconduct, the commission has thrown its doors wide open, welcoming any shred of information regarding vote rigging.

Hathairat Phaholtap, the indefatigable editor of The Isaan Record, an independent media gem based in Khon Kaen, revealed an intriguing proposition that came her way. She recounted how a familiar political figure dangled 50,000 baht per vote for ten specific candidates in front of her. Unfortunately, Hathairat, who bowed out in the first-round vote on Wednesday morning, lacked concrete evidence, having not recorded the conversation.

Thanuphong Sakthanawat, better known by his stage name Na Kluay Choen Yim, shared a similarly tantalizing tale. Despite his flair for comedy, Thanuphong took the offer of ‘tea money’—a euphemism for bribery—with utmost seriousness, turning it down flat. He cast doubt on the authenticity of candidates who won by overwhelming margins, suspecting behind-the-scenes machinations.

Then there’s Yingcheep Atchanont, the manager of the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw), firmly batting away media claims that iLaw was lobbying votes for certain candidates. He clarified that although iLaw had fielded information from numerous candidates alleging vote-buying attempts, the organization itself had no candidates in the race. iLaw had even faced temporary shutdown of their Senate67 website while raising public awareness and encouraging candidacies, only for the Administrative Court to later greenlight its revival after ruling against restrictive EC regulations.

Pro-democracy Push

In a twist of political drama, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the relentless chairman of the Progressive Movement, took to social media on Tuesday night to rally pro-democracy candidates. His impassioned letter was a rallying cry, urging the candidates to stay the course and flood the Upper House with pro-democracy voices. Thanathorn envisaged a future Senate elected by the public, touting this as an opportunity to fundamentally rewrite the constitution to ensure the independence of key institutions.

“Do you still dream of this democratic ideal? Or has your personal ambition overshadowed our collective goal?” he queried, striking a chord with many.

However, not all voices sang in unison. The anti-Move Forward Party (MFP) Facebook page, ironically named “What Lies Has MFP Come Up with Today?”, accused certain Senate candidates of being swindled into what appeared to be an independent race, only to reveal itself as an orchestrated ploy by the opposition. In rebuttal, Move Forward categorically denied any involvement, underscoring that all party members were strictly adhering to the organic law governing the Senate composition and steering clear of the election fray.


  1. Samantha K June 26, 2024

    Another day, another set of rigged elections. Why should we even bother voting anymore?

    • JohnDoe555 June 26, 2024

      I understand your frustration, but if we all give up, nothing will ever change. We have to keep fighting for transparency.

      • Samantha K June 26, 2024

        True, but it’s hard to stay hopeful. Feels like a never-ending cycle.

    • ProfGraves June 26, 2024

      The key is rigorous oversight and empowering watchdog organizations. Apathy is what corrupt officials rely on.

  2. AngryVoter123 June 26, 2024

    I knew it! The whole system is a joke. Maybe we need more extreme measures to make these fraudsters pay.

    • PeaceLover June 26, 2024

      Extreme measures often lead to more violence and chaos. We need to focus on peaceful change.

    • NoMercy99 June 26, 2024

      Peaceful changes take forever and often don’t work. Maybe drastic actions are the wake-up call they need.

  3. Liv June 26, 2024

    Yingcheep Atchanont’s clarification is crucial. Misinformation can really ruin organizations trying to do good.

    • Jonah June 26, 2024

      Exactly. It’s important for media outlets to verify facts before pointing fingers.

    • Liv June 26, 2024

      Absolutely. Mistakes can cost these organizations their credibility.

  4. Thomas J June 26, 2024

    Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s call for a pro-democracy Senate is inspiring. We need more voices like his.

  5. Skeptic42 June 26, 2024

    Ha! And next he’ll promise world peace. Politicians are all the same, only worried about their own agendas.

    • SunnyA June 26, 2024

      That’s a bit cynical, don’t you think? Some genuinely want to make a difference.

    • Skeptic42 June 26, 2024

      Maybe, but history’s shown us that power corrupts, and he’s no different.

  6. BlueSky June 26, 2024

    The allegations of collusion make this election look like a bad soap opera!

  7. NextGenDebate June 26, 2024

    It’s frightening how easy it is to manipulate votes even in seemingly tight systems.

  8. Maria L June 26, 2024

    Hathairat Phaholtap’s story is telling. Bribery is more common than we think and hard to prove.

    • JustTruth June 26, 2024

      True. Maybe there should be better mechanisms to protect whistleblowers.

      • Maria L June 26, 2024

        Exactly. Without protection, people are scared to come forward.

  9. Jack June 26, 2024

    And yet another case of trying to buy votes. When will they learn that integrity can’t be bought?

  10. RuthP32 June 26, 2024

    I feel like I’m watching a never-ending drama. When does it stop?

  11. UrbanWarrior June 26, 2024

    Anti-Move Forward Party pages dragging down candidates is just a dirty tactic. Focus on your own campaign!

    • Kathy T June 26, 2024

      Agreed, mudslinging only makes everyone look bad. Let’s focus on policies.

    • RealPolitik June 26, 2024

      Unfortunately, smear campaigns have always been part of the game.

  12. Aaron June 26, 2024

    Hats off to Thanuphong Sakthanawat for standing firm. Not everyone is willing to reject bribes.

    • CynicCat June 26, 2024

      Or maybe he just wants to appear noble for future political gain.

    • Aaron June 26, 2024

      That’s a harsh take. Sometimes people do good things without ulterior motives.

  13. Eloise June 26, 2024

    The EC needs to be more aggressive. Only thorough investigations will reassure the public.

  14. Dara June 26, 2024

    So much chaos! Makes me wonder if a publicly elected Senate would be any better.

    • Lars85 June 26, 2024

      It could be better or worse. Public election has its own set of challenges.

  15. Minnie M June 26, 2024

    Love the idea of a pro-democracy Senate. Keep up the pressure, Thanathorn!

  16. Jake L June 26, 2024

    Does anyone actually trust the Election Commission anymore?

    • HannahD35 June 26, 2024

      Not really. They need to rebuild trust through transparent actions.

  17. Maximilian June 26, 2024

    Collusion and vote-buying are endemic. Solutions need to go beyond band-aid fixes.

  18. Tanya June 26, 2024

    How can a candidate like Yingcheep Atchanont stay focused amidst all this drama?

  19. NomadMike June 26, 2024

    Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani… seems like the whole province is corrupt!

  20. Eugene R June 26, 2024

    Reading about these allegations just makes me more cynical about politics in general.

  21. WebWarrior June 26, 2024

    The anti-MFP page is just trying to distract from their own weaknesses.

  22. PoliticalJunkie June 26, 2024

    Seems like another round of the same old problems. Can we ever trust election results?

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