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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Can a referendum be held on election day? The State Electoral Commission is responsible

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The National Electoral Commission announced in a communiqué that a nationwide referendum may be held on the same day as the elections. The Commission also explains the rules of conducting a referendum and the differences between an election campaign and a referendum campaign.

The Commission referred to the doubts related to the possible holding of a nationwide referendum on the same day as the parliamentary elections.

PKW refers to Art. 90 of the Act on the National Referendum, which – as the Commission writes – “clearly determines that a national referendum may be held on the same day as elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and to the Senate of the Republic of Poland, or elections of the President of the Republic of Poland, or to the European Parliament”.

Pursuant to the article – as we read – voting is carried out in voting circuits created for the relevant elections and on the basis of lists of voters prepared for them, and certificates of the right to vote are issued in accordance with the provisions on the relevant elections and authorizes to participate in the voting indicated in it. voting in an election and in a referendum held at the same time.

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The communiqué also states that the tasks of election commissioners and precinct commissions are performed respectively by district and precinct electoral commissions established to conduct the relevant elections.

Referendum together with elections: “not really possible”? We explain

It was emphasized that the legislator prejudges the issue of voting in the same voting circuits, i.e. in the same polling stations, by one and the same precinct electoral commission (and not two separate ones).

Rules for holding a referendum

In the case of ordering a nationwide referendum on the day on which elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and to the Senate of the Republic of Poland are held, the referendum shall be conducted by precinct electoral commissions in the country appointed by election commissioners for elections using one ballot box into which both ballot papers are thrown in elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, ballot papers in elections to the Senate of the Republic of Poland, as well as ballot papers in the national referendum.

The Commission also indicates that “the results of voting in elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and to the Senate of the Republic of Poland are determined separately and separate (two) voting protocols are drawn up”. “In the event of a possible nationwide referendum and elections being held on the same day, the precinct electoral commission would additionally be required to separately determine the results of the vote and draw up a separate (third) voting protocol” – added.

A voter entitled to participate in a referendum, as we read, cannot and is not forced to vote in elections to any body, nor to participate in a referendum.

“The decision to participate in elections to a given body (e.g. to the Sejm or the Senate) or in a referendum is therefore the sole decision of the voter (the person entitled to participate in the referendum). In the case of a referendum held on the same day as elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, and to the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the voter may therefore decide, solely at his own discretion, to participate, for example, only in elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and to the Senate of the Republic of Poland (without participation in the referendum), only in participation in the referendum (without participation in elections to to the Sejm and to the Senate); only in elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (without participation in elections to the Senate of the Republic of Poland and in the referendum)” – enumerates the Commission. As it was emphasized, “if the voter refuses to accept the voting card or cards, the precinct electoral commission will record this in the voter list”.

Election campaign and referendum campaign

The PKW also refers to doubts related to conducting the election campaign and the referendum campaign in parallel. The legislator – as it was emphasized – provided for such a solution, and the principles of financing both campaigns were set out in the Election Code. “According to its provisions, the financing of the election campaign is open. This campaign for the candidates – on an exclusive basis – is conducted by election committees. Their expenses incurred in connection with the ordered elections are covered from their own sources. The committees may obtain funds only from entities specified in the Code and spend them only for purposes related to the elections. The financial representatives of these entities are obliged to submit financial statements after the PKW elections, which – after analyzing them – can be accepted by the Commission, accepted with an indication of their shortcomings or rejected” – it was emphasized. On the other hand, the provisions of the Electoral Code do not apply to the financing of the referendum campaign. “The expenses incurred by the entities participating in the referendum campaign are covered from their own sources and in accordance with the relevant regulations defining their financial activities. Therefore, these are separate financial economies” – added.

Main photo source: Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP



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