In 1996, the Constitution Drafting Assembly was established with 99 members appointed from the outstanding persons throughout the country for drafting the new constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in order to reform the Thai political system and create the constructive democratic learning process for promoting a wide range of political public participation. Then on 11th October 1997 , this constitution, the most democratic one in the Thai political history, has been implemented. The constitution has an intention to reform the political system contributing a better democratic climate in 3 arenas: 1) improve an electoral process more free and fair; 2) promote political public participation; 3) provide mechanism for monitoring the use of state power for effective operation of a person holding a political position.
Such a reform, there must be the independent mechanisms which can not be influenced improperly or interfered by the government and/or politicians. Especially, the reform of election is considered the first step of all the political reform; therefore, the Election Commission was established to take responsibility in holding and controlling the elections at whatever level.
Before the 1997 Constitution came into existence, the body that organised the national and local elections was the Ministry of Interior. By its structure, the political influence on the election at whatever level was unavoidable as the Interior Ministry is after all a governmental organisation. Since the constitution was enforced, the Election Commission of Thailand has been established as an independent statutory to look after the elections. The scope of its power is to organise the elections of members of the House of Representatives and Senators as well as the election of members of the local assemblies and local administrators.
According to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2540 (1997), Section 136, the Election Commission consists of a Chairman and other four Commissioners appointed by His Majesty the King on the advice of the Senate, from persons of apparent impartiality and integrity.
The Election Commissioners assume the office for a term of seven years non-renewable. During the transitional period, prior to the new system of elected Senate being fully implemented, the term of service was only half of their full term (three years and a half) as in the case of the first team of Election Commissioners.
The Secretary General of the ECT is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Office of the Election Commission of Thailand and its Provincial Offices. All the Provincial Election Commissioners are appointed by the Election Commission to perform any functions as determined by the latter.
The Process of Selection of Chairman and Election Commissioners (According to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2540)
- The Supreme Court of Justice, at its General Meeting, shall select 5 suitable candidates for Election Commissioners for nomination to the President of the Senate.
- The Selective Committee shall select another five suitable candidates for Election Commissioners for nomination to the President of the Senate. The resolution of such nomination must be passed by votes of not less than three-fourths of the members of the Committee.
- In case the Selective Committee is unable to make nomination, or unable to make donation in the complete number, within the prescribed time, the Supreme Court of Justice, at its General Meeting, make nomination to obtain the complete number.
- Ten suitable candidates then are submitted to the Senate for screening to derive five finalists. The first five persons who receive the highest votes being more than one-half of the number of the existing senators shall be elected as the Election Commissioners.
- The five Commissioners shall select amongst themselves the Chairman of the EC.
- The President of the Senate shall report to His Majesty the King for further appointment.