On Sunday 22nd May 2011, the local elections for the Chairman of the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) took place in Samut Prakan. Counting of the ballots started in the early evening and continued into the early hours of the morning at each of the District centers. This is the first time I have covered a local election and I thought I would share with you some of the process that happened during that long night. The following pictures were taken at Amphoe Muang in Samut Prakan where I work as a photographer for one of the local newspaper.
When the ballots from each sub-district arrived, the ballot papers were counted and 500 of these were put in a plastic bag.
The plastic bags with the ballot papers were placed safely in this cage guarded by security.
At the same time, 150 tables, each with a board, was being set up for the people to count the votes.
This is the control center in the PAO building. Here there were live feeds from each of the districts where the counting was taking place. Results came into this control center.
The people in pink shirts are the counters. They are being watched by independent observers.
Once the ballot papers had been sorted into plastic bags, two representatives from each table came to collect one bag of ballot papers.
As they left, they had to carry the plastic bag high. They collected three baskets and a large chart to write down the results of the votes.
They went back to their table escorted by at least one independent observer.
At their table they prepared the baskets and the chart. All the time the person with the ballots had to hold it up high.
As soon as each of the 150 tables had received one plastic bag of 500 votes, the cage was locked. See the plastic bag on top, that one doesn’t have an even 500 ballot papers.
Counting of the votes then started all at the same time. The number of the winning candidate was read out loud and shown to the independent observers.
A score was then written on the chart on the board.
The baskets are there to sort the ballot papers between good ones and ones that have been spoiled in some way. I saw a few where people had voted for two candidates.
Once they had finished counting the 500 ballots in their plastic bag, two representatives from that table came back to deliver the counted ballots and the chart with the vote tally.
Once that was done, they collected another bag with 500 ballots and headed back to their table to start the next round of counting.
Counting like this went on until the early hours of Monday morning. The results are now known. There is a kind of 30 day waiting period to give anyway a chance to lodge a complaint. After that period has passed, then the winning candidate will become the Chairman of the PAO.