Do Poles who want to vote abroad have reason to be concerned? Changes have been made to the Electoral Code which may make voting more difficult. And because of which there is no guarantee that all votes will be counted.
Polish diaspora activists are alarming – with the current regulations, thousands of votes cast abroad in the upcoming elections may end up in the bin. Each electoral commission, whether in the country or abroad, will have 24 hours to present the protocol with the results of the vote. This is not enough time – especially for foreign committees, which in practice often have up to three times more votes to count than those in Poland. Members of several Polish organizations in Great Britain conducted a simulation. If more than 2,000 people apply to a given committee, then with the current procedure of counting votes – colloquially speaking – the committee will not make it. – We wanted to be very precise and know what such counting looks like, both if the card is in the form of a sheet and in the form of a book. So we got from 100 to 150 votes per hour – says Kamil Arendt, Polish community activist in Great Britain, member of the board of KOD UK. – I see a risk that the larger committees, which have, for example, 2,000 voters, will not be able to count these votes in 24 hours – warns Roman Śmigielski, honorary chairman of the “Polonia in Denmark” Federation.
Vote counting simulations were carried out in the spring. The Polish authorities had several months to react. The reaction is – there will be more commissions abroad, but this may not solve the problem. – We know that we will have additional electoral commissions this year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it. They even said it could be 30 percent more, but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll make it. This is primarily due to the fact that it is the voter who decides which commission he or she will sign up for. And there is no way to limit the size of the commission, no way to say “well, we already have two thousand here, now we don’t accept more voters”. Five days before the election we will know where how many voters have registered. And then nothing can be changed – explains Kamil Arendt.
Too little time
In the 2019 election, there were 51 committees that had to count over 2,000 votes. The record was set in the London Borough of Ealing, which had to serve over 6,000 voters. For comparison – the largest commission in the country – in Warsaw’s Targówek – had twice as much work. – If the elections, according to today’s regulations, had been held then, over 100,000 votes would have been thrown into the bin – notes Kamil Arendt. – We live, ladies and gentlemen, in the 21st century. Probably everyone has a smartphone, everyone has a computer and I do not understand why we still have to vote purely on paper and without voting by mail – adds Roman Śmigielski.
In the autumn elections, only voters who will be 60 years of age at the latest on the day of voting and, regardless of age, disabled and quarantined people will be able to vote.
The July elections in Spain proved how important the votes cast abroad are. The results were so even that a recount was ordered in foreign commissions. It can be presumed that in Poland, the opposition will lose out on possible confusion with voting abroad. The clue is the 2020 presidential election. President Andrzej Duda received a quarter of the votes of the Polish community, Rafał Trzaskowski three quarters.
In addition, the commission will have to deal with the votes cast in the referendum. Polonia is still appealing – there is still time to change the regulations and give committees more time. Just 48 hours instead of 24.
Facts about the world TVN24 BiS
Main photo source: Facts about the World