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Parliamentary elections 2023. Experts on ideas for foreign commissions

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The votes of the Polish diaspora are as important as those in Poland, but foreign commissions may simply not be able to count them. They will have an additional obligation – checking referendum cards, and the time will be limited to 24 hours. There are proposals to extend this time or to separate the counting of votes cast in the elections and the referendum.

24 hours – this is the limit imposed by the Electoral Code on foreign commissions. During this time, they must count the votes, prepare protocols and send the results to Warsaw. This limit applies to every election. But does it also apply to the calculation of referendum results? According to constitutionalist Professor Ryszard Piotrowski – it does not apply. – There is no importance here of ensuring the continuity of public authorities, because the continuity of public authorities is absolutely not at risk if the result of the referendum in these districts is not determined within 24 hours – says Professor Ryszard Piotrowski, a constitutionalist from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw. However, there is no consensus among experts on this issue.

In an interview with “Fakty” TVN, Wojciech Hermeliński, former head of the National Electoral Commission, presented a different position. – I believe that this 24-hour deadline also applies to the submission of the protocol, because in this situation the 24-hour deadline would make no sense. The intention is for all activities related to counting votes and preparing the minutes to be completed within 24 hours, says Wojciech Hermeliński.

The editorial office of “Fakty o Świecie” TVN24 BiS sent a request for a comment on Professor Piotrowski’s position to the National Electoral Commission, but has not received a response yet.

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On Wednesday, the National Electoral Commission explained that separate counting of votes in elections and referendum votes is impossible, but not for legal reasons, but for organizational reasons. – If it were decided that it would be necessary to stop and first present the results to the Sejm, the committee would have to pack everything that is to be packaged separately, and describe them. He cannot leave cards on the table that no one has control over and write a protocol that everyone has to determine the results together. So it’s technically impossible, explained Magdalena Pietrzak, head of the National Electoral Office.

Voting away from home. What to do to take part in the elections?Paweł Laskosz/Fakty po Południu TVN24

Question about two urns

So maybe the counting of votes would be accelerated by placing two ballot boxes. One for votes in the parliamentary elections, the other for referendum votes. The National Electoral Commission has already issued an opinion that there should be one ballot box, but according to Professor Piotrowski, the regulations do not specify this at all. – This is a view that, I believe, has important practical arguments behind it. You would have to pay for this second urn. There is no clear provision in the Act stating that there should be one ballot box, emphasizes Professor Piotrowski. – Undoubtedly, placing two urns would be invaluable at this point. It would help a lot. But do we have any guarantees that the right votes will go to the right ballot box and that the voter won’t make a mistake? – asks Dr. Baczyńska.

The 24-hour limit does not apply to domestic circuits. The risk that votes will be wasted due to possible – as the Ombudsman puts it – inefficient electoral administration applies only to foreign constituencies. – This is a violation of the constitutional principle of the right to elections, because one is effectively deprived of the opportunity to participate in these elections. This is a violation of the constitution – says Dr. Monika Haczkowska, a constitutional expert.

In the previous parliamentary elections, the Polish community cast over 314,000 votes. In 2019, Poles abroad voted differently than Poles living in the country. Abroad, the Civic Coalition clearly won.

The head of the National Electoral Office assured on Wednesday that she did not consider that the Polish diaspora’s votes would be wasted.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Leszek Szymanski/PAP

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