Opening of polling stations in 24 locations abroad not justified, ADEPT

In 24 locations abroad, the establishment of polling stations is neither justified by the prior registration criterion nor by the 2019 parliamentary election turnout, where small numbers of citizens cast their votes. However, based on the same criteria, the proposed number of polling stations is insufficient in nine other locations. These conclusions were published by experts from the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, in an analytical note regarding the location and estimated number of polling stations abroad, in 42 countries.

The research was based on the methodology developed in May 2020 by the Promo-LEX Association and used the latest official data relevant to the three criteria for setting up polling stations abroad, provided by the Electoral Code. First two criteria are voter turnout in the previous election, organized in the national districts, and number of prior registrations of Moldovan citizens abroad. The third criterion accounts for the total number of Moldovan citizens abroad, provided by the CEC, based on data submitted to the electoral authority by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MAEIE).

According to the analysis, a polling station will be established in 18 countries, where a diplomatic mission already exists, namely Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, China, Greece, the Swiss Confederation, the United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, Hungary and Turkey. In Turkey, according to experts, it will most likely be possible to open two polling stations, as there is both an embassy in Ankara and a general consulate in Istanbul.

Two or more polling stations will be established in 15 countries. These are Belgium, Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Canada, France, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Romania, Germany, the Russian Federation and Italy.

In Croatia, Georgia, Finland and the Principality of Monaco, polling stations probably will no longer be established, opposite of the 2019 election. In four other countries, where polling stations have not been previously established, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and Cyprus, polling stations could be opened.

On September 11, the Central Electoral Commission put forward to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration proposals on the organization of 202 polling stations in 36 countries, even though the institution's 2020 budget provides for the activity of 150 polling stations abroad.

The ADEPT Association issued recommendations to Parliament’s Legal Committee related to legal aspects regarding the criteria for setting up polling stations abroad. Additionally, the Association put forward recommendations to the MAEIE regarding the re-evaluation and publication of real information on the number of voters and their location abroad, based on data obtained by MAEIE from the competent authorities of the countries of residence of Moldovan citizens, not based on approximate estimates of diplomatic missions.

The main recommendation to the CEC remains to organize official public consultations or debates on the establishment of polling stations abroad, involving non-profit electoral organizations, parties, potential electoral contestants, diaspora voter groups and other stakeholders. According to ADEPT, these debates are to be held as soon as possible, as there is little time left until September 26, when the CEC will decide on the number and geographical location of polling stations abroad.

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