Mice and other pests sabotage vote recount in Thailand

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Some people accuse crooked politicians of being the bane of Thai democracy, but officials in the northeastern province of Sisaket have discovered another enemy within: ballot-eating mice and insects.

A long-delayed recount of votes in one of the province's constituencies became more complicated Tuesday when it was discovered that mice and termites had partially eaten a ballot box and many ballots in it.

Sixteen cardboard boxes containing 64,940 ballots had been kept in the provincial police station since the Jan. 6, 2001, general election after the National Election Commission ordered a recount because of mistakes during the original tally.

In the meantime, a family of six mice made one box containing about 5,000 ballots home and gnawed several thousand ballots, said Chaipong Markthong, an official witness at the recount. Termites and other pests also caused damage, he said.

The recount went ahead anyway although a final result could be weeks away pending a ruling by the national commission in Bangkok on the chewed-up ballots, he said.

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