How was figure of 139 out-of-country polling stations determined

Under the Electoral Code, when the number of out-of-country polling stations is determined, the number of voters at the previous elections, the pre-registration by Moldovans abroad and the number of Moldovan voters estimated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration are taken into account, said ADEPT vice director Elena Prohnitski, secretary of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections.

In a conference entitled “Vote in the diaspora: Optimal solutions for overcoming current challenges” that was staged by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms, Elena Prohnitski said the pre-registration is not mandatory, but  is an indicator showing where there are the highest numbers of Moldovans abroad and the Central Election Commission (CEC)  must take these figures into account. The registration is available all year round and ends 45 days before the election day. As regards the third criteria, the Ministry’s data are inaccurate and far from reality and it is not clear how often they are updated.

The ADEPT vice director related that there is no clear mechanism how these provisions can be applied by the CEC as the institution does not have regulations to this effect. Earlier, the Promo-LEX Association proposed draft regulations and methodology to the CEC, but no reaction followed. The ADEPT borrowed the idea and formulated a set of proposals concerning the number of out-of-country polling stations in countries where it is presumed that larger numbers of Moldovan citizens live. Later, the CEC undertook a number of recommendations.

Elena Prohnitski considers the CEC set the number of polling stations abroad by giving equal importance to the three criteria. Based on this methodology and internal discussions, a list of proposals, where there were 202 out-of-country polling stations initially, was compiled and sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval. Respectively, the Ministry, discussing with the host countries, based on the restrictions imposed there, transmitted a response to the CEC about the number of polling stations that could be established.

The Ministry’s last notice contained the figure of 145 polling stations, but the CEC ultimately approved the figure of 139. It is not clear why the CEC agreed namely this figure. The communication between the Ministry and the CEC was not really transparent.

In another development, Elena Prohnitski said that after 2016, the lowest limit of ballots was increased to 5,000 ballots per polling station and this is provided in the Election Code. Practically, the ballots can ne reallocated from one polling station to another, but this will be illegal as the 5,000 ballots per polling station have a code that indicates the number of the polling station. Eventually, not only those ballots, but all the ballots at the given polling station could be annulled.

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