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Friday, December 1, 2023

Parliamentary elections 2023. Electoral and referendum silence continues. NEC recommendations

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At midnight, the electoral and referendum silence began. It also applies on the Internet. It will last until the end of voting scheduled for 9 p.m. on Sunday. The National Electoral Commission indicates that encouraging people to participate in elections does not break electoral silence. The situation is different with encouraging or discouraging participation in the referendum, which breaks the referendum silence. There are very high fines for breaking the silence. The National Electoral Commission appeals to refrain from actions that may be considered unacceptable.

The election campaign and referendum campaign ended on Friday, October 13, at midnight.

From now on, until the end of voting, it is prohibited to conduct electioneering and referendum campaigns in any form, in particular: convening meetings, organizing marches and demonstrations, giving speeches and distributing election materials or handing out leaflets.

Election silence. What can be done? What is prohibited?

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“Violations of these prohibitions may result in a criminal sanction and will therefore be subject to assessment by law enforcement authorities and courts. The National Electoral Commission appeals to refrain from any activities that could be considered conducting electioneering and referendum campaigns at a time when it is prohibited. “- emphasizes the National Electoral Commission in its position.

Encouraging or discouraging participation in elections does not constitute electioneering within the meaning of the provisions of the Electoral Code. As indicated by the National Electoral Commission, activities of this nature may be carried out after the end of the election campaign by entities not participating in the elections, provided that these activities are free from any elements of electioneering.

At the same time, the National Electoral Commission reminds that taking such actions by electoral committees or political parties participating in the elections during the election silence would violate the ban on electioneering during this time.

Referendum silence. NEC position

“Encouraging or discouraging participation in the referendum is an element of the referendum campaign, because turnout is of decisive importance in the referendum for its result. Therefore, such activities cannot be carried out during the so-called referendum silence,” the National Electoral Commission emphasizes.

The Commission also reminded that electioneering and conducting a referendum campaign in a polling station and in the building where it is located are prohibited.

In particular, on the day of voting, no inscriptions, symbols, images or signs should be displayed at the polling station, including on items of clothing, manifesting views on political or social matters, which are associated with entities participating in the elections and may be perceived by voters as a form of electioneering or referendum campaign.

During the election and referendum silence, it is also prohibited to make public the results of surveys regarding the expected behavior of voters and voters in the referendum, the results of the elections and referendum, as well as surveys conducted on the day of voting.

The election silence continuesHoles/Shutterstock

The provisions of the Electoral Code and the Act on the National Referendum do not require the removal of previously disseminated election and referendum materials from public space at the end of the election and referendum campaign. However, these materials cannot be moved or modified. Due to the ban on electioneering and referendum campaigns in the offices of electoral commissions, materials located in these premises must be removed before voting begins. If it is found that there are electoral or referendum materials on the property where the polling station is located, the district electoral commission is obliged to remove them.

A fine for breaking the ban on agitation

Violating the ban on electioneering is punishable by a fine. The highest fine, from PLN 500,000 to PLN 1 million, is imposed for publishing polls during the election silence.

At the same time, the National Electoral Commission emphasizes that the electoral authorities do not assess or conduct proceedings in cases of violation of electoral or referendum silence. This is dealt with by law enforcement agencies and courts.

“Any cases of conducting an unauthorized election or referendum campaign should be reported to the police or prosecutor’s office, and not to electoral commissions or the National Electoral Office,” the National Electoral Office emphasizes.

All these rules also apply on the Internet.

Main photo source: Maciek Jazwiecki / Agencja Wyborcza.pl

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