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Monday, 31 July, 2000, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Thais move towards online voting
Internet
Voting online could become a reality in Thailand
By East Asia reporter Clare Arthurs

The Thai Government has launched a website which will eventually allow people to use their computers to do a range of tasks, from registering a birth to voting in elections.

The site is already operating and there are plans to expand the government services it offers so that Thais in and outside the country can get easy access to a range of public agencies.

In theory, the new website - which has been set up by the interior ministry - will put an end to lengthy queues in government offices.

Internet
Thais can log on at local government offices
Called KhonThai.com, it will first offer people a chance to look at their own details and correct any errors, including a change of address.

In time, the site will allow people to record a marriage, or electronically register a birth or death.

Thais will also be able to pay their tax online and apply for and renew their passports.

One day, subject to new legislation, they could even be able to vote on the web.

A range of government agencies is involved in KhonThai.com, including the ministries of police, education and university affairs.

Security worries

Thai embassies are also linked to the initiative, and the service could be expanded next year to allow overseas Thais to use the civil registration service and to check their eligibility to vote.

Many people in Thailand do not have direct access to the internet.

The government is hoping they will be able to use a network of provincial offices to access the website and it will provide free electronic mail or email accounts.

Users will have to register and use a password to access their personal details to ensure privacy, but officials admit there is more security work to be done.

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