ECT penalties and how they could affect the election results

The poll for Thailand’s 2019 general election closed on Sunday, 24 March. But while voters wait for the official election result, they also have to wait and see whether the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) will be issuing penalties, known as ‘yellow cards’, ‘orange cards’, ‘red cards’, and ‘black card’ to any candidate.

The 2007 Constitution and the 2007 Organic Law on the Election Commission allowed the ECT to issue a ‘yellow card’ if it found evidence of election fraud but could not specify which candidate cheated, and the ECT could order a re-vote. The ECT could also issue a ‘red card’ if it could specify which candidate committed election fraud, and could order a re-vote and ban the candidate from running.

However, under the 2017 Constitution, the 2017 Organic Law on the Election Commission and the 2017 Organic Law on Election of MPs, the ECT and the courts have the authority to investigate any suspicions that an election did not proceed in a transparent manner and to issue penalties.

According to Nawat Sripathar of King Prajadhipok’s Institute, there are three types of penalty the ECT may issue in this election, ‘yellow cards’, ‘orange cards’ and ‘red cards’.

Under a ‘yellow card’ the ECT has the authority to order a re-vote, without being able to prove which candidate committed election fraud.

If before or on the election day, the ECT finds evidence that the election in any constituency has not proceeded in an honest and just manner, the ECT has the authority to suspend, withhold, rectify, or cancel the election and to order a re-vote or re-count in a particular polling station or in every polling station.

After the election result has been announced, if the ECT finds evidence that the election in any constituency did not proceed in an honest or just manner, but cannot prove that the candidate who won the election committed fraud, the ECT can file a request with the Supreme Court to hold a re-vote and to revoke the candidate’s MP status, valid from the day the court issues a ruling. The ECT must then hold a re-vote as soon as possible.

An ‘orange card’ gives the ECT the authority to temporarily remove a candidate who is unqualified or banned from elections, to prevent such a candidate from getting involved in the election or a re-vote.

If before the election day, the ECT finds that any constituency or party-list MP candidate is unqualified or is prohibited from running in an election, the ECT may file a request with the Supreme Court to remove the candidate from the list of MP candidates.

If before the election result is announced, the ECT finds that any candidate committed any action which means that the election did not proceed in an honest or just manner, or if there is evidence that any candidate makes or support others in committing fraud, or knows of fraud and does not prevent it, the ECT may revoke the candidate’s right to run in elections for up to a year. If the candidate has received enough votes to be elected, the ECT may cancel the election and order a re-vote. If the candidate did not win the election, their votes will not be used in calculating the number of party-list MPs.

A ‘red card’ is the revocation of the right to run in an election for a specific period of time, and is under the authority of the Supreme Court. The ECT may file a request with the Supreme Court to revoke a candidate’s right to run in an election or their right to vote, if it can be proven that the candidate or other person committed fraud or is an accomplice in election fraud. If the Supreme Court rules that the person is guilty, the court may prohibit them from running or voting in elections for 10 years. If the ruling means that there needs to be a re-vote, then the court will also order the guilty candidate or person to be responsible for the cost of holding the re-vote.

Finally, a ‘black card’ is when the Supreme Court impose a lifelong ban on a candidate or person, permanently barring them from running in an election or holding a political office. However, a ‘black card’ is not only a result of committing election fraud. If the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Position finds evidence of abnormal wealth, corruption, abuse of power, violation of the Constitution, or serious violation of ethical standards, the Court may also revoke that person’s right to run in an election.