Igor Boțan: If voting period is reduced, more polling stations should be established

Even if the goal is to make sure that the elections are free and fair and the voter turnout is higher, what is important is for the people not to become infected. On the other hand, a solution should be identified so that the voters do not become disappointed and do not go to polling places. If the voting period is reduced, more space should be ensured by establishing more polling places and this would be a solution, expert Igor Boțan said in the public debate “Amendments to Election Code: advantages and risks to democracy” held by IPN News Agency.

Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert, said the problems identified by the Central Election Commission in the electoral process were discussed in the process of amending the electoral legislation. The amendments derive from the adjustments made earlier to the new Administrative Code. A series of changes derive from the opinions formulated by the Constitutional Court after the presidential elections of 2016 and also from the recommendations and proposals of national and foreign observers.

Igor Boțan noted that a state policy aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic is now being pursed. But the election campaign and the presidential elections will be held amid the pandemic and the attitude to the proposal to modify the voting hours met thus with opposition from the very beginning.

“It’s true that the international electoral institutions recommend shortening the working program of electoral functionaries, if it’s possible. In our country, voting lasts for 14 hours. The European average is of 12 hours. I therefore accept the solution to shorten the voting period by two hours. However, given the state policy to fight COVID-19, if we limit the operating period of polling stations, we actually act against this state policy. This is the danger,” explained the expert.

According to him, the power and the opposition want the voter turnout to be higher. However, if the voting period is reduced, the people could refuse to go to polling stations or could return home without entering the stations in order to avoid crowdedness. “A solution is to establish more polling stations, as they do in other countries. But those countries have a particular political culture and the voters there trust the state intuitions and do not admit that rigging is possible. So, an appropriate solution is needed so that no one has the feeling that someone pursues other goals in fact,” stated Igor Boțan.

The debate “Amendments to the Election Code: advantages and risks to democracy” was the 144th installment of the series “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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