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January 26, 2023

800,000 ballot papers will be dispatched to the polling stations abroad

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) will ask the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) to give an opinion on the legality of increasing the number of polling stations abroad, freshly installed ForMin Teodor Melescanu said yesterday, adding that, if arguments are given in support of the legality of such an action, there would be no need for an emergency ordinance. ‘We will ask BEC to analyse the legal grounds and tell us if we can legally do this’, Melescanu said.
Asked if he will table an emergency ordinance in the Government again, if BEC communicated that it would be legal to add more polling stations, Minister Melescanu said the procedure was not necessarily needed. Asked what kept him from opening more polling stations overseas right now, the minister said he didn’t know if that was legal or not. ‘The position of MAE is that, under the current legislation, such thing cannot be done between the two rounds of election. However, the ministry has no authority to construe the legislation’, Mediafax quotes Melescanu as having stated. The official also said he also expected the ‘necessary arguments’ from BEC.
Yesterday morning, Melescanu said, at BEC, that, under the applicable law, it was impossible to set up new polling stations abroad for the presidential runoff.
‘This is not possible under the current legislation. If waivers are passed, if ways to amend the law are found, then we can discuss the subject. If not, we will focus on voting streamlining measures and we’ll put together a set of measures we will present to you for a better organization, relying on the involvement of the colleagues from the Foreign Ministry, of Diaspora members, having the political parties handle the process at the polling stations, which are all meant to ensure an as fast as possible flow, yet under observance of the law,’ Melescanu said after the meeting with BEC representatives. ‘We presented a set of proposals and measures which, in our opinion, allow the streamlining of the runoff voting so as to ensure that all Romanians outside country borders can cast a ballot. After this presentation, BEC requested that all the propositions be put down in a written document we will send during the day and on which BEC will express opinions as to what we can and what we cannot do,’ Melescanu explained.
Asked if, at the present time, it was not ‘clear’ whether or not new polling stations may be opened, Melescanu’s answer was: ‘It is very clear that it is not yet clear’.
A maximum of seven stamps for each polling station
The budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received an additional RON 1.5 M from the contingency fund of the Government for the runoff presidential election abroad, to cover the cost of more stamps, booths and staff’, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu announces. He also expects that the measures taken to smoothen out the voting process will help accommodate at least a double number of voters.
Every polling station abroad requiring that will be equipped with seven voting stamps and booths – the maximum accepted number.
His recommendation to Romanians abroad was to try and go to the polls in the second round beginning with the first hours in the morning in order to avoid the overcrowding and proposed a list of 800 staff for the voting stations. ‘We have made available to the electoral bureau for the Diaspora a list of available MAE personnel to complete the membership of the electoral bureaus of the polling stations. We have proposed a list of 800 persons – 300 from the Ministry and 500 already working abroad. From the list, the electoral bureau for the Diaspora has selected a total of 120 people they believe will be enough for the voting process’, said the minister. The 120 people selected are both from the MAE central structure and from exterior structures. A total of RON 850,000 has been provided to cover transport and accommodation expenditures. The minister noted that MAE has already received another RON 4.5 M for both rounds of the presidential election this year, but insisted that the Ministry’s job was not to organise the election, but to take care of the logistics in implementing the decisions of the Central Electoral Bureau under the applicable legislation.
Klaus Iohannis: ‘Government does not want the Diaspora to vote’
The ACL candidate in the presidential election, Klaus Iohannis, commenting on Teodor Melescanu’s assertions that the law does not permit opening new polling stations abroad, said ‘the Government does not want the Diaspora to vote’, and that he hoped a solution would be identified. ‘It is clear that they don’t want this. The Ponta Government could change the legislation for the election of the president overnight, in the same way it was able to pass Ordinance No. 55 overnight, allowing political migration in the local public administration. If they wanted to, it could have been done, but they didn’t want to. They could have adopted a normative act in due time, to prevent this situation’, Iohannis said on Kiss FM.
He also noted that the Executive had been warned a long time before the election that there were too few polling stations and that many had been closed down in places with large Romanian communities, and , yet, ‘it ignored all such warnings’.
Iohannis also added that it was possible to take measures to improve the voting process and expressed his hope that ‘there will be enough wisdom among ambassadors, consuls and other people in charge so that the polling stations could be organised as well as possible’.
Foreign Minister would vote in Paris
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said he would vote in Paris in the presidential runoff and that the secretaries of state of the Ministry would be in Vienna, Chisinau or Munich on Sunday, to prevent any more voting difficulties abroad.
The Official Journal will print a total of 20.9 M voting ballots for the second round of election, out of which 800,000 will be dispatched to the polling stations abroad, according to a Government release.

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