Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu said at a press conference on Friday that he “firmly” recommends Romanians abroad, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to opt for a postal vote in the parliamentary election scheduled for December.
“Even though at the moment we only have two states that did not allow the external vote (on their territory – n.r.) – Malta and Nigeria -, there are many situations in which the authorities of the states of residence, in dialogue with the diplomatic and consular missions of Romania, have repeatedly recommended encouraging the vote by mail,” said the Romanian top diplomat.
Thus, he encouraged enrollment on the dedicated platform.
“I want to strongly, insistently recommend that Romanian citizens residing abroad opt for postal voting and register on the votstrainatate.ro platform,” he said.
In this respect, he also spoke of “reservations” from Romanian citizens regarding online listing. In order to register as mail-in voters, Romanians must send their personal code number (CNP), copies of the documents attesting their residence in that country and the address where they want to receive the ballot paper.
“There is no danger in terms of the safety of voter data. CNPs are encrypted when used in this electoral process. Personal data does not in any way reach any other institution for use for any other purpose. They are used strictly for the proper management and conduct of the electoral process, when we are talking in this case about postal voting,” Aurescu said.
The Foreign Minister also made it clear that Romanians residing abroad “will be able to vote at any station outside the country, regardless of whether or not they have registered in the electoral register”.
As regards the vote at the station, Aurescu showed that, following the registration of the nearly 4,000 Romanians on votstrainatate.ro, the decision was made to set up 12 stations in Brussels, Paris, Stuttgart, Bonn, Rome, Milan, the Hague, London, Manchester, Chisinau, Madrid, Barcelona. These polling places, he stressed, “are exclusively for the registrations on the votstrainatate.ro portal.”
The ForMin recalled that “there are a number of states, including those with Romanian communities, which have transmitted to the diplomatic and consular missions of Romania the agreement in principle for the organization of polling stations”. These include France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Spain.
“These agreements of principle that we have received from the host states, as well as the measures and conditions imposed, are valid for the moment, yet it cannot be ruled out that, depending on the evolution of the pandemic (…), the respective states of residence will revert to the information communicated. They can be reviewed and have some impact on how we will organize the electoral process outside the country, including the total number of stations that we will organize,” Aurescu warned.
Moreover, he stated that “this agreement of the authorities of the resident states cannot be the subject of political or diplomatic negotiations”.
The vote in the diaspora for the parliamentary election will take place for two days on 5 and 6 December, between 7:00 and 21:00, with the possibility of extension. According to votstrainatate.ro, 3,939 Romanians from outside the country were registered for the vote at a polling station, and almost 17,000 for the postal vote. The deadline for registering for a postal vote is 22 October, while the deadline for voting in the section was 21 September. According to the president of the Permanent Electoral Authority, Constantin-Florin Mituletu-Buica, Romanians in the diaspora who have opted online to vote in person can change their choice, if they wish, to vote by mail by the deadline of October 22.
Malta and Nigeria, the only states to have officially announced that no polling stations can be set up on their territory for Romania’s parliamentary elections
Malta and Nigeria are the only states that have so far officially announced in writing that no polling stations can be set up on their territory for Romania’s parliamentary election this December, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Thursday.
“Romania’s missions abroad have been instructed as early as June to contact the competent foreign authorities in the countries of residence for the assessment of the real, concrete possibilities of organizing polling stations on the territories of these states and to inquire about the hygiene and health protection measures that must be observed during the voting process. We already received answers from many states. We have a clear situation,” Aurescu said at the beginning of the government meeting this evening.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban asked the Foreign Minister if there are countries that do not allow the organization of polling stations, citing a political leader who claimed that [external] “voting is not possible anywhere in the world.”
“This is wrong. So far, only two countries, Malta and Nigeria, have officially communicated in writing that polling stations cannot be organized on their territories. Otherwise, there are in principle or preliminary agreements from states such as Austria, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, France, Germany, the Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, the USA, Hungary, Turkey and there are also others that communicated this agreement in principle, of course, taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation; the final details for the organization of the ballot and their implementation, in strict compliance with the protection and safety rules, will be established later, depending on the evolution of the pandemic,” Aurescu specified.
He added that there are states that traditionally allow polling stations to be organized only at the premises of diplomatic missions, citing the example of Canada.
PM Orban asked Aurescu to devise a communication plan to keep the Romanians in each country informed on how to vote and recommend them to register in as large as possible numbers for the vote by mail. “We now have the agreements in principle, but they are all probably conditional on the evolution of the pandemic,” Orban added, according to Agerpres.
AEP: Vote by mail, the sole guarantee Romanians abroad can exercise their voting right
Preparations for the upcoming parliamentary election by the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP) are according to the plan on the organization of the electoral process, AEP president Florin Constantin Mituletu-Buica said on Friday; he also called on the Romanian citizens abroad to register for voting by mail, which is the “sole guarantee” that they can exercise their right to vote.
“From the standpoint of the Permanent Electoral Authority, up until now things have worked according to the plan for the organization of the electoral process for the 2020 parliamentary election to be held on December 6, and on December 5 and 6 for Constituency No. 43 – external vote. Registration for Romanians from abroad, whether we are talking about the vote at the polling station or about vote by mail, started on April 1 on the AEP platform votstrainatate.ro, which was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a new app that retrieves the enfranchised citizens from the AEP register and moves them from the inland electoral roll to the external roll, as per their request, or for voting by mail,” Mituletu-Buica told a press conference organized together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu.
The AEP president mentioned that the registration deadline for voting by mail has been extended until October 22, adding that the deadline for registering for casting ballots at a polling station was September 21 and the electoral roll has been generated for the twelve polling stations proposed for establishment by AEP and the Foreign Ministry.
“There are currently 16,500 applications for vote by mail, and with less than 20 days for registration for voting by mail and I want as many Romanians as possible to take this voting option seriously,” Buica said.
He specified that for the vote by mail, the Romanian citizens abroad will print their ballot papers themselves.
Mituletu-Buica also emphasized that the vote by mail remains the only guarantee for the exercise of the right to vote by the Romanians abroad.
AEP has prepared the videoclip regarding the registration procedure as a mail-in voter and its promotion, he informed.