Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) will open 748 polling stations abroad for the December 6 election to the Romanian Senate and Chamber of Deputies that will meet the health protection requirements to contain COVID-19, up 331 from the previous general election in 2016, MAE’s official in charge with special electoral tasks Iulian Ivan.
“We are ready for the voting process to take place abroad under the best circumstances (…) Tomorrow [Friday], December 4, voting abroad will begin, with the first station to open being in Auckland, New Zealand, at 20:00hrs, EET,” said Ivan.
He underlined that MAE provided voters with an interactive map of the polling stations abroad that can be found on its website.
“MAE is opening 748 polling stations abroad that which meet all the sanitary conditions health protection requirements to contain COVID-19. (…) Compared with the previous general election, when 417 polling stations were opened, this year there will be 331 more. For example, in Spain there are 140 polling stations, as against 53 in 2016; in Italy, there are currently 137 polling stations, up from 73 in 2016; in Germany there are 61 polling stations, compared with 15; in the UK there will be 50 polling stations, as against 21 previously; in France there are 48 polling stations, compared with a previous 16, and in the US there will be 36 polling stations, up from 31 in 2016,” Ivan told a news briefing on Thursday.
According to him, due to some agreements being called off by local administrations or real estate owners because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 25 polling stations were relocated mostly in the same areas, with the following exceptions: Roselare (Belgium), relocated to Brussels; Ginosa (Italy), relocated to Bari; Alesund (Norway), relocated to Vatne.
“We will not open polling stations in Malta, Nigeria, North Korea and Venezuela for objective reasons,” said Ivan, according to Agerpres.
Ivan: Voters may go to any polling station abroad
The MAE official also declared on Thursday that voters who have chosen to vote by mail but did not receive the necessary documents or information that the outer envelope they had sent had been registered at the polling station can go to the polls at any polling station abroad.
“If you are a voter who has chosen to vote by mail but have not received the necessary documents to vote, you can vote at any polling station organized abroad. If you have chosen to vote by mail, but have not received the envelope with your vote, you can go to any polling station organized abroad. If you have chosen to vote by mail, you have sent the envelope with your vote, but until the beginning of the voting you have not received the information by email or text message that the outer envelope sent by you was registered at the electoral bureau for the vote by mail, you can also go to any polling station,” Ivan explained in a news conference.
He brought to mind that the envelopes with the postal vote had to be sent so that they could reach the country at the correspondence voting office or at the diplomatic missions of Romania until Thursday, at 23.00, local time.
Iulian Ivan also informed that the MAE, according to its duties regarding the voting materials, sent to the Permanent Electoral Authority, the Ministry of Interior and the Institution of the Prefect of Bucharest the necessary voting stamps, control stamps, ballot papers, stamps stickers for voters abroad.
Based on requests from diplomatic and consular offices, 2.6 million ballot papers were made and sent for each category – Senate and Chamber of Deputies, 6,400 stamps with the word ‘Voted’ and 2.4 million stickers.
“I would like to point out that all the materials have been sent to the diplomatic missions. At the moment, we are unable to send to two countries, namely Turkmenistan, Polling Station no. 773, and Iran, Polling Station no. 235. At these polling stations, according to the decision of the Constituency Electoral Bureau, the electoral materials that will be used will be made locally,” added Ivan.
Romanians studying abroad to be able to vote based on documents issued by educational units
He also stated that Romanians who are abroad to study and who do not have documents issued by foreign authorities can vote in the parliamentary elections based on the documents issued by their educational institutions.
Ivan specified that the list of documents issued by foreign authorities that can be used by Romanians abroad to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections is published on the Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE).
“In order to prevent unpleasant situations, we recommend that Romanian citizens residing or having their domicile abroad get their information in advance about the conditions under which they can exercise their right to vote in the current situation. The MAE (…) makes every effort to ensure that this election is held under the best conditions possible. (…) Romanian identity documents that expired between March 1 and December 6, 2020 can still be used by Romanian citizens abroad to exercise their right to vote. Also, the documents that prove the legal right of the respective voters to reside abroad can also be used by them in exercising their right to vote, if they have expired between March 1 and December 6, 2020. Also, documents issued by foreign authorities can be presented at the polling station, not only in original, but also in electronic format or in copy,” the MAE representative told a press conference.
According to Iulian Ivan, in the countries with traffic restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, steps have been taken so that Romanian voters can go to the polls based on a statement or specific evidence that they will participate in the electoral process.