Regulations aimed at ensuring independence of CEC are not sufficient, report

Even if the law offers the Central Election Commission adequate resources for achieving its mission, this institution is not sufficiently represented at the local level. The CEC has a budget on which there are no contradictory debates in the legislature, but it has problems with the insufficiency of work areas, the high fluctuation of staff and the insufficient qualification of the personnel or of electoral functionaries, especially in the case of members of district electoral councils and of electoral commissions of polling stations, who are assigned by political parties, says the report on the assessment of the Central Election Commission (CEC) from the perspective of the National Integrity System that was produced by Transparency International – Moldova.

In a news conference at IPN, Mariana Kalughin, Transparency International – Moldova expert, said the legal framework contains regulations aimed at ensuring the independence of the CEC, but these are not sufficient. The method of appointing CEC members should be reviewed so as to consider the eventual appointment of these based on criteria of professionalism following a public contest. “The appointment by Parliament decision, these being actually nominated by political players, makes the members of the Central Election Commission and ultimately the Central Election Commission to be perceived as politically affiliated. The CEC is regrettably not perceived as an independent authority and this is primarily due to the way in which this is constituted and to the formalized examination of the candidates and the lack of authentic hearings involving them in the legislature,” stated Mariana Kalughin.

According to the expert, the legal framework on the transparency of the CEC is not developed by internal regulations for organizing public consultations procedures in the process of formulating and adopting decisions. The CEC ensures the transparency of its activity and of the electoral process, but this needs to be increased. The transparency of the district electoral councils and of electoral commissions of polling places is also insufficient. Even if there are provisions regarding the CEC’s accountability, these contain shortcomings and are not sufficiently comprehensive and explicit: the examinations of the CEC reports are not public. The following aspects are insufficiently regulated: method of submitting and examining challenges of people who vote at polling stations established abroad; the procedure for examining challenges formulated on the election day by Moldovans abroad, which could not be lodged to court the same day; the necessity or lack of necessity for obeying the preliminary procedure when challenges concerning the conduct of elections are filed after the election day.

As to the monitoring of election campaigns, the CEC does not have authority and resources to effectively and efficiently monitor the finances of political parties and costs of electoral contenders in the election campaign. As regards the administration of elections, the same problems persist, related to the instability of the legal framework, the quality of the voter rolls, pre-registration of voters, accessibility of polling places to persons with disabilities, the quality of the provisions aimed at ensuring the integrity of the electoral process, the quality of the programs to promote electoral anti-fraud behavior.

Transparency International – Moldova recommends the CEC to delegate the right to set up permanent representative offices at the local level and the procedure for certifying electoral functionaries, to oblige to include only certified persons in the composition the electoral boards of district electoral councils and of electoral commissions of polling places, to digitize the electoral process and to implement the process of examining the candidates for CEC member.

It is also recommended to develop the legal framework on the transparency of the CEC by internal rules for organizing the public consultation procedures in the process of drafting and adopting decisions, to improve the legal framework for increasing the accountability of the CEC and to ensure authentic examinations of the CEC reports in Parliament.
The report was compiled in the framework of the project “Strengthening the democratic rule of law: contribution of civil society” that is implemented by Transparency International – Moldova and is financially supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

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