The members of the initiative group took notice of the press release issued on October 28 by the Central Election Commission (CEC), the response provided by the CEC president, Mr. Emil Cimil, to CBS-Research and the public statements made by the CEC secretary, Mr. Maxim Lebedinschi. Based on the content of these, we declare the following:
1.The response given by the CEC president stipulates that the notification of the conduct of the poll on November 1 does not meet the submission requirements (stamp and signature are not applied appropriately). We will remove these faults and will present the notification again, in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 (10) of the Electoral Code.
2. We ascertained that the disseminated press release misleads public opinion about a number of aspects. First of all, this says that the CEC should authorize the holding of polls, even if these are exit polls. There are no provisions in the legislation of the Republic of Moldova, which would require the obtaining of permits or authorizations from any public authorities for conducting any poll. Moreover, Mr. Maxim Lebedinshi declared publicly that the Electoral Code does not stipulate bans on holding opinion polls on the election day. We note that the only restrictions existing in the Electoral Code refer to the impossibility of publishing the poll results during five days until the elections and on the election day, before the closure of polling stations (Art. 70 (10)). We are consternated at the situation when a CEC manager misleads about the electoral legislation, either consciously or not.
3. The assertions contained in the CEC’s response and the mentioned press release, as to the fact that the telephone polling would somehow affect the secrecy of the vote, are absolutely unfounded. We reiterate that the responses are anonymous, while the recording of answers in the database is no way associated with the telephone number of the surveyed person. The phone numbers and possible recordings of the discussion within the interviews will not be stored or registered.
4. As to Mr. Cimil’s interpretation that this poll does not meet the criteria of an exit poll, we note that, as we also mentioned in the public announcement, this is not a classical exit poll. Given the pandemic, we cannot expose the voters and interviewers to an additional risk and will collect the answers by phone, through the agency of a system of generation and random and automated calling of mobile phone numbers and random selection of landline numbers from an anonymized list. We used the notion of exit poll due to its usual character for voters and the exercise we intend to carry out has the same goal and ending as a classical exit poll. The telephone interview is the only essential difference from a face-to-face interview with the voters near polling stations. The essence of the questions is the same – to find out the preferences of voters who already cast their ballots. However, in order to avoid any speculations, we decided to give the poll the generic name “After Poll”.
5. We must note that the CEC president and the CEC secretary dared to issue a so-called decision in the name of the whole Commission, but the issue wasn’t examined in a meeting and wasn’t adopted with a majority of voters of members. In essence, such an examination cannot even take place because the CEC does not have any legal powers to authorize, permit or ban the holding of such exercises. We consider these actions represent abuse of authority and will demand that the given decision makers should be investigated and held accountable.
We believe the press release and the response of the CEC are an attempt to intimidate the representatives of civil society involved in the organization and implementation of the project and to intimidate the journalists who are to inform society about the obtained results. Moreover, we consider the pubic references to the involvement of the police, the Center for the Protection of Personal Data and the Audiovisual Council in blocking the conduct and publication of the poll are abusive and go against the citizens’ rights, which is an especially serious democratic backsliding. We request the CEC members to examine the actions of the administration, to impose disciplinary punishment for the mentioned abuses and to dissociate themselves from the illegal and antidemocratic actions of Mr. Dorin Cimil and Mr.Maxim Lebedinschi.
We call on the national and international observers, international organizations and diplomatic missions accredited in the Republic of Moldova to take attitude to these actions aimed against the exercise of the democratic rights and freedoms.
We reiterate the absolutely legal, transparent and correct character of our project. We hope a lot that the CEC and other public institutions will return to the limits of legality and will encourage the people’s participation in this democratic exercise.
Initiative group for implementing project Exit Poll 2020
October 29, 2020, Chisinau
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