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Prattana Phodee, President of the Thailand Government Employee Network, has filed an appeal against the Social Security Board election result, after the Social Security Office announced the official vote count and he lost over 1300 votes.

Prattana Phodee (third from left) submitting his appeal to the Social Security Office. (Photo from the Thailand Government Employee Network)

According to the unofficial vote count released on the night of the election, Prattana won 15,080 votes and was elected as one of the 7 employee representatives on the board. However, according to the official result released on Wednesday (24 January), Prattana won only 13,750 votes.

Jaturong Praising from the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), who won 14,937 votes, was elected in place of Prattana, whose ranking went from 7th to 9th place. Jaturong won 14,907 votes in the unofficial result, but gained 30 votes after the official result was announced.

Prattana said that he was told by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Social Security Office on Tuesday (23 January) about the missing votes and that errors were made when the vote count was put into the real-time reporting system. He was not told what happened to the ballots that lost him his ranking.

“I ran [in the election] as a member of the Thailand Government Employee Network, so I think at least, if the Social Security Office gives me an explanation, I can pass the information onto my fellow members in the Network, so they know that this is how the election turned out, what mistake the Social Security Office made, and why they let it go for that long,” he said.

Prattana submitted an appeal with the Social Security Office yesterday (25 January) over the missing votes which cost him his seat on the board. He requested that the Social Security Office release vote counts from every polling station and a re-count in any polling station where his vote count changed. He also demanded an explanation from the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) on why there is such a large error in the vote count, and what action will be taken against any official responsible for the error.

Prattana raised questions in his request about whether the process of counting and compiling the votes is problematic, since the ECT did not disclose the details of the process to the public, as well as why the ECT took a month to confirm and release the official result. He also asked why the ECT did not inform candidates affected by the error before releasing the official result.

Although they retain their ranking in the election, members of the Progressive Social Security Team, a team of labour rights advocates who won 6 of the 7 employee representative seats on the board, also found their vote count significantly reduced in the official results. The vote count for editor and disability rights advocate Nalutporn Krairiksh was reduced by 420, while that of Molnlycke Health Care Company Union President Lakshmi Suwanpakdee was reduced by 1329. Other members of the team had their vote count reduced by over 200.

Sustarum Thammaboosadee, a Thammsat University lecturer and a board member candidate, said that it was highly abnormal for a candidate to lose as much as 10% of their votes and for it to take a month for the official result to be announced. He also found it unusual that Chalit Ratapana and Siwawong Suktawee, two members of the Progressive Social Security Team, were told that they both won 69,020 votes, since he believes it highly unlikely for two people to win the exact same number of votes.

“I think it’s very strange that it took one month with a voter turnout of 150,000 people, and it’s not normal at all in an election for over a thousand votes to go missing, or around 10%. It’s not normal at all, so I think we can’t just let this go,” Sustarum said.

Since so many ballots were deemed invalid, Sustarum said the Social Security Office must provide the public with an explanation. He also said that there were several abnormalities during the Social Security Board election, noting that there has been an effort since the last government’s term to push for a new Social Security Bill which would give the Prime Minister the authority to appoint members of the Social Security Board.

Sahassawat Kumkong

Move Forward Party MP Sahassawat Kumkong said that representatives of the Social Security Office were summoned to meet with the House Standing Committee on Labour. The representatives said that changes in the vote count were due to human eorror and insisted that the election was transparent. However, when Sahassawat asked if the Social Security Office can release the vote counts from each polling station and the number of valid and invalid ballots to clear up any questions that might be raised, he did not receive a reply.

Sahassawat questioned why the Social Security Office did not inform the public of where they were in the election process before announcing a changed result 1 month after the election.

“The Social Security Fund holds up to 2.3 trillion baht of wealth. It is related to the quality of life for the tens of millions of workers in this country. Certifying the election results for a board that will be responsible for this Fund should be up to standard and transparent. The Social Security Office should take this seriously and release the vote count from each polling station so that workers are confident that the Board will truly be their representatives,” Sahassawat said.

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