The head of the National Electoral Office, Magdalena Pietrzak, was asked about the controversy surrounding the connection of voting in the parliamentary elections with the referendum in “Fakty po Faktach” on TVN24. – The voter gets three cards from the same person at the same polling station. There will be the same commissions, the same urns, everything is the same – she assured. The head of the NEC was also asked about possible problems with Poles voting abroad.
The campaign officially launched on Tuesday elections parliamentary – the President’s decision was published in the Journal of Laws Andrzej Duda on ordering elections on October 15 and the election calendar. The campaign will last over two months – 67 days.
Pietrzak: the issue of the referendum is still in the sphere of digressions
Magdalena Pietrzak, head of the National Electoral Office and secretary of the National Electoral Commission, was asked about the process of preparing for the elections, including the announced merger of the referendum with the elections.
At the beginning, she reminded that “so far the referendum has not been ordered”. – We are also preparing for the elections to the Sejm and the elections to the Senate. So far, no formal actions regarding the referendum have been taken, because they cannot be taken until the regulations in this regard are in place, she explained.
– We are not indifferent to this and of course we are talking about it, we are preparing, but all this is rather in the sphere of digression, because as I said, there are no regulations in this area yet, so we could not even take any action, because we operate only on the basis of applicable regulations – she added.
Pietrzak explained that “if a referendum is ordered, announced, the referendum campaign starts from that day.”
– This campaign will run parallel to the election campaign. Its principles are set out separately in the Act on the National Referendum, because the legislator, providing for such a possibility and authorizing to order a referendum on the same day as elections to the Sejm and the Senate, predicted and explicitly recorded it in the act 20 years ago that Referendum commissions appointed in elections, in precincts also appointed for elections, on the basis of voter lists that are prepared for elections – she described.
She noted that “the only discrepancy is that the referendum campaign is to be conducted on the basis of the provisions of the Act on the National Referendum, while the election campaign is to be conducted on the basis of the provisions of the Election Code”.
Head of the KBW: there are fewer complications
When asked if all this did not complicate the whole process, Pietrzak replied that in her opinion “there are fewer complications”. “The costs are also much lower,” she said.
– We will prepare one election action. At the moment, we actually have two electoral actions. We have elections to the Sejm and the Senate. There are other provisions that apply to, for example, committees when submitting lists of deputies’ candidates, when nominating candidates for senators. These are separate rules, she pointed out.
Pietrzak also mentioned that she also looks at the issue of the organization through the prism of funds that are spent because she manages them. – If this referendum is held at the same time, the funds are much smaller. Because we even counted that it would be about three percent of the additional costs of conducting the elections. These are also low costs. And if the referendum was held separately, the costs would have to be double, she said.
She further explained that on October 15, “the voter gets three cards from the same person, in the same polling station, there will be the same commissions, the same ballot boxes, everything is the same.”
Voting abroad. Pietrzak: the number of circuits will be increased abroad
In this context, it was recalled that Article 230 § 2 of the Electoral Code says that “if the relevant constituency electoral commission does not obtain the results of voting in polling wards abroad or on Polish sea vessels within 24 hours from the end of voting, (…), voting in these wards shall be deemed not to have taken place“.
Pietrzak was therefore asked whether the aforementioned 24-hour time limit would be extended for commissions that will operate abroad. – According to the applicable regulations, there is no such extended limit. There was an initiative of the Senate, but no further course was given. For now, there are regulations that the protocols must be sent abroad within 24 hours from the end of the voting – she replied.
When asked if this was fair, she said “it will definitely be more complicated for these commissions”. She added that the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “has already officially said that there will be a large, larger number of regional commissions.”
We haven’t had any problems abroad so far. There has never been a situation where the protocol did not arrive on time. But taking into account all aspects, and above all the fact that voters waited in queues for a long time, we have information that in those places where there is the largest number of Polish diaspora, there will be an increased number of precincts, she informed.
Does the head of the KBW maintain the opinion that the votes of the Polish diaspora will not go to the trash? “Back then, there was no talk of a referendum”
Pietrzak, when asked if she could ensure that the votes of Poles abroad would not go to the bin, replied that she “hopes that the number of district commissions will allow for much faster counting than before.” – Let me remind you that the most numerous commissions abroad in 2019 handed over the protocols at noon on Monday (the day after the election – ed.), so there was still a lot of time until the end of 24 hours. If these commissions are less numerous now, they will have much more this time, she noted.
The program recalled Pietrzak’s statement from “Fakty po Faktach” broadcast on May 23 this year. Then the head of the KBW, to the question of whether Poles abroad can be calm that their votes will not go to the bin, replied: “yes”.
Now, when asked if she stands by these words, she replied that “then there was no question of a referendum”. – I then emphasized that it all depends on whether there will be precinct electoral commissions and I count on it – she reserved.
Main photo source: TVN24