Diaspora vote: Foreign Ministry claims 5-6 busloads of voters brought to polling stations

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The Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) has drafted a report on the irregularities at the Diaspora vote and sent to the Prime Minister, arguing that, among the reasons that prompted the queues in front of the polling stations abroad there was also the overlap of the EP elections with the referendum on justice, as well as “coordinated actions to bring a huge number of citizens to the polls by 5-6 coaches”.

On the other hand, DNA has opened a criminal investigation on the Diaspora vote.

MAE argues that, according to Law 33/2007, the body taking care of coordinating and organising the voting process abroad is the Electoral Bureau for the Polling Stations Abroad.

The ministry says though it is in charge of providing logistics support in the voting procedure, such as distributing the ballot papers and stamps, completing the lists for the polling stations and ensuring a proper functioning of the elections.

The Foreign Ministry also says that it has approved all requests of setting up more polling stations abroad, totaling in a number of 441 sections. “The number of polling stations has at least doubled compared to the previous EP elections and to the presidential elections in 2014.” MAE states that there has been a double number of polling stations in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, triple in Austria and UK, while in Germany, there were five times more sections and “substantial increases” in Italy and Spain.

In MAE’s view, the main problem came after the Presidency had announced the referendum on justice taking place on the same day with the European elections, mentioning it warned all embassies that a particular effort should be taken to ensure an efficient activity during voting.

The vote time has increased for the usual 2 minutes up to 7 minutes, considering that two lists had to be filled handwritten, three ballot papers had to be handed and the citizens had to place the papers into three different ballot boxes”, the ministry notes.

The ministry led by Teodor Melescanu also points out that the political parties have showed no interest in assigning representatives at the polling stations abroad, which made the activity of the embassies’ and consulates’ staff harder.

MAE continues that another cause of the queues was related to the Special Telecommunications Service system of monitoring the turnout and of preventing the illegal double vote. “Each polling station was equipped with 2-3 tablets and the problem was not so much due to the system’s functioning, but to the deficiencies prompted by the low speed of the Internet in various countries and locations.”

Another factor was that some groups of supporters of certain political parties have been involved (…) There have been coordinated actions to bring a high number of citizens to the polls, even by 5-6 coaches or cars at once (electoral tourism), which immediately led to a major pressure over the polling stations and influenced the voters’ decisions.”

The ministry announces that it has summoned the ambassadors of all countries where difficulties have been encountered „to identify the causes and responsibilities of each of them, as well as to advance proposals to amend the voting systems across polling stations in Diaspora”.

MAE argues that, despite growing number of polling stations, it has run out of resources to ensure the necessary logistics for the elections abroad (locations, human and financial resources) and has advances several proposals to amend the electoral laws, such as the extension of the voting time (during a time of 7 days).

The ministry didn’t seem supportive about the postal or mail vote, arguing that “they can cause even more problems as every citizens will have to preliminarily register and give its residence address in order to cast his/her vote”.

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