The two co-presidents of the National Liberal Party, Alina Gorghiu and Vasile Blaga, said on Thursday that, the following week, the law on the distance voting would be in Parliament. ‘After constant action and daily pressure put on the Government and colleagues on the ruling coalition, we have managed to have the draft law on the distance voting in the plenary meeting of the Senate. Until Monday amendments will be made but, as we discussed with the former chairman of the Electoral Code Commission, I understand that the beginning of November is the deadline for the Parliament to send the law for promulgation’, Gorghiu said.
‘It would be a grand achievement. We are not interested in the paternity of the bill, it may be claimed by the Standing Electoral Authority, or by PSD, Dragnea, Ponta and other such names, we are not interested. The important thing is to create this alternative for the Romanian citizens in the Diaspora to be able to exercise their right to vote’, the PNL co-president also said.
The Liberals have decided not to make changes of substance, in order for the process to be smooth.
‘I wouldn’t be as modest as my colleague. This is 95% the bill of the National Liberal Party. It is an alternative vote, no one keeps Romanians abroad from going o vote as they have so far, but it helps calibrate the polling stations. The Senate will take a vote on the bill on Thursday, from 17:00 and then it will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies. We have decided not to make amendments in the Senate exactly to expedite the procedure so that the bill reaches the Chamber of Deputies sooner’, Vasile Blaga said, in turn.
The statements were made at Drobeta Turnu Severin, where the two PNL officials were to assess the preparedness of the Mehedinti organisations of the party for the local and parliamentary elections of 2016.
Difficult procedure for Romanians in the Diaspora
The distance voting law draft law applicable to Romanians based abroad contains a rather intricate procedure. Romanians abroad are supposed to decide if they would vote or not six months before the election date and inform the embassies or consular offices about their intention. They can register to vote in the Electoral Register from 1 March to 30 June, with the option for distance voting, and the parliamentary and presidential elections always happen in November-December.
They must enclose with their request a photocopy of an ID showing that the person resides in that country. The requirement disqualifies many of the potential voters who may have not set up official residence in the countries where they live. The information provided in the request will be checked twice – the first time by the Romanian embassies or consulates in those countries, and then by the Standing Electoral Authority. Only then will the voters receive the papers needed for voting, including two envelopes – an outer envelope and a second one which they need to put the voting ballot, as well as the voter certificate that may only be used for a single election and which must be returned with the vote. The special envelopes must reach the electoral office for distance voting at least three days prior to the actual voting date and will be unsealed and counted only after the official closing of the election.
The draft law developed by the Standing Electoral Authority has entered the legislative routine. The Standing Bureau of the Senate has allowed time for amendments in the Senate until Monday and that the bill should be sent to all senators in the meantime.