The Electoral Code Commission adopted on Monday the amendments filed by Senators to the postal voting law and has sent the report to the Senate in order for it to be adopted during the plenum meeting. Electoral Commission Chairman Gabriel Vlase pointed out that the law will most likely be adopted by the Lower Chamber too next Wednesday. PNL Spokesperson Ionut Stroe stated that PNL supports the draft filed by AEP and will not file any amendments because it contains 90 per cent of the Liberals’ proposals.
Once it is adopted within the Lower Chamber the law will be sent to the President for promulgation. The draft postal voting law remained almost in the form drafted by the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP), only some technical amendments being adopted. Thus, the members of the commission have decided that the envelopes containing the votes should be opened after 9 p.m. when the voting centres close and not between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. as initially stipulated.
The Electoral Code Commission adopted last week the postal voting law drafted by the Permanent Electoral Authority.
Expert Forum representatives identify law’s weak points
Expert Forum has analyzed the draft law, identifying the law’s shortcomings but also how things can be set straight. The most important points that have to be modified, according to the Expert Forum, are the fact that the law has to include Romanians that live both abroad and in the country, that the deadlines for registration within the Electoral Registry should be extended, the introduction of several safety mechanism so that there should be alternatives in case the voting fails and that the voter should have the possibility to check online where his postal envelope is. Likewise, Expert Forum asks for the clarification of aspects that have to do with the procedure used by the voter to print the voting ballot, the functioning and prerogatives of electoral offices, as well as aspects having to do with appeals against the votes and the procedures used to receive and open envelopes.
“The legislation and its implementation have to support voters and not to raise obstacles in the path of expressing voting options. Thus, the list of documents established by the Foreign Ministry has to be as inclusive as possible, so that voters should not be forced to cover high costs or to travel long distances in order to obtain documents that prove their place of residence,” the report shows.
“Postal voting has to be seen as an alternative to the classical vote cast in voting centres and thus, the law should not limit the voters’ options. We are talking about the growth in the number of voters that have to register within the Electoral Registry in order for local voting centres to be set up, from 100 to 500, as well as the proposal to introduce the obligation to register within the Electoral Registry in order to vote abroad in 2020. We believe these changes should not be discussed in 2015 but, if need be, after 2016,” Expert Forum representatives add.
M10 wants this measure for all Romanians
The M10 Party has filed on Monday within the Electoral Code Commission a series of proposals and observations concerning the postal voting law drafted by the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP). M10 wants the postal voting law to come into force as fast as possible and to be applied to all elections in 2016. Likewise, the party founded by MEP Monica Macovei warns that AEP’s legislative proposal does not entail sanctions for the cases in which the law is not respected, a fact that encourages abuses and the breaking of the law, according to a communiqué posted on the party’s Facebook page.
“We are asking for postal voting for all Romanian citizens living abroad, but also for those living at home. The law does not stipulate the exercise of postal voting for Romanians living at home too and who live in a locality other than that of their residence. They cannot vote in local elections unless they travel, sometime hundreds of kilometres, on the day of the vote to the voting centre they are allocated to,” the M10 communiqué reads. “It’s regrettable that only now, almost a year after the Romanians living abroad were humiliated, there is talk about this draft. By discussing the draft law at the last minute, PSD probably wants the public debate to be minimal or even for the law not to come into force in time for the 2016 elections. In their turn, President Klaus Iohannis and PNL have no excuse for neglecting this draft law for so long: but we know that both parts of USL opposed distance voting in recent years,” the M10 representatives add.
Iohannis: I am very happy that the Senate voted the draft law
President Klaus Iohannis welcomes the Senators passing the postal voting bill and hopes that parties will maintain their enthusiasm in this case so that next week the law can come into force.
“I am very happy that today [Monday] the Senate voted the draft law and I hope that the parties will maintain their enthusiasm regarding the law on postal voting so that perhaps next week we can have this law,” Iohannis stated on Monday at the Central University Library, where he participated in the ceremony celebrating 800 years since Magna Carta was signed.
He underlined that citizens’ participation in the democratic process cannot be separated from the granting of the right to vote and added that the government “proved itself incapable” of offering the necessary conditions for all Romanians to exercise a fundamental right.
“The absence of a law on postal voting would remain an obstacle in granting all Romanian citizens, wherever they are, the right to vote,” Iohannis said.
The head of state also pointed to several ‘temptations’ of today’s politics.
“Populism, electoralism, publicity hounding and replacing the action of substance with propaganda are the most toxic ones, and Romania was not spared from these temptations in the past years. Politics made for immediate electoral gain and in view of publicity, measures that are ungrounded, brought forth before the elections in hope of some extra votes, unfounded promises aimed at manipulation, empty propaganda undermine democracy. All this pushes it further from its meaning – that of representing citizens and governing to their benefit,” Iohannis stated.