Voters in high spirits as early voting begins in Thailand
10:54 AM, March 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:06 AM, March 17, 2019

Voters in high spirits as early voting begins in Thailand

Hundreds of thousands of voters across Thailand headed out today to cast early ballots, a week ahead the country's first general election since a military coup in 2014.

They will have a single ballot to cast for their preferred constituency candidate. The ballot will also count as a vote for the candidate's party in a separate list of seats up for grabs.

Around 2.6 million of over 51 million eligible voters have registered to vote outside their home constituencies in Thailand. They include over 928,000 who will cast their votes at 58 polling stations in the capital Bangkok.

In Bangkapi district, which recorded the highest number of registered early voters, at 61,401, queues started to form as early as 6:00am, two hours before voting opened.

First-time voter Naree Wangwan, 24, was the first in line at Banbangkapi high school, which has been turned into a polling station.

"I was so excited I woke up at 4am to take the bus and avoid the traffic jam," the trainee teacher told The Straits Times.

"I'm here because I want to do my part to make a change in the country. I want better economy, public transportation, and education. There's still much inequality," she added.

As part of voting regulations, alcohol sale and distribution have been suspended and political parties are not allowed to campaign close to the polling stations. Police have also been deployed to secure voting venues and manage traffic.

Advance voting will run from 8am to 5pm (9am to 6pm Singapore time) at designated polling stations, but no results will be announced on Sunday.

Registered early voters who fail to turn up will not be eligible to vote on March 24, the first general election since the junta seized power in 2014. Then army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha led the coup that toppled the Pheu Thai Party-led government and took over as prime minister.

Copyright: The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

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