Monday, June 29, 2009

Village headman election procedures

In the 1960s the village headmen elections were done in a quite different way than what is usual in democratic elections nowadays.
[...] At the election itself, Ban Ping villagers approach the official one by one and whisper their vote for him to record. Young men and even women are permitted to vote and commonly do although they, like most villagers, suspect that the form of voting permits the official to announce the election of whichever candidate he prefers for the office.
from ''A Thai Village Headman as a Synaptic Leader'' by Michael Moerman
It's of course obvious that with this election method there is no way to check if the official counts correctly or distorts the numbers so his preferred candidate will be the winner.

In the 1990s the voting still wasn't completely secret:
[...] When the hall was full, the deputy district chief asked villagers which method of polling they wanted. They were given the choice to vote by either show hand or by secret ballot. This initial choice was to be made by a display of hands. One of Kamnan Chang's assistants immediately voted for open polling. Other villagers followed his example. He later explaned to me he had done this because he knew nobody would dare publicly to oppose Han. [...]
Democracy, Development and Decentralization in Provincial Thailand by Daniel Arghiros
I don't know if this acclamation way of election is still possible by law. It must be well known to those in power that this election method is easy to be abused like in the example observed above, so the only way to have a fair election is to do secret balloting.

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