Warnings have appeared on social media that due to the creation of the Central Register of Voters, people without permanent registration may “fall off the voter roll” – and therefore will not take part in the elections. It’s not true. The changes concerned something else. We remind you of the rules for adding yourself to the register and the voter roll.
On one of the Facebook accounts was released on September 13 post content: “If you want to take part in the next parliamentary elections, check if you will be able to do it, because on election day it may turn out that you are not on the voter list. It turns out that PiS has messed up the voter rolls and in the Central Voter Register there are only people registered with permanent registration, which excludes voters who, for example, rent an apartment and are from another town” (original spelling). The Internet user informed that he had already made the appropriate change in the register. “Please spread the word among your friends because it may turn out that 30 percent of voters may lose their vote,” he warned. The post generated a lot of comments; has over 3.6 thousand shares.
Some of the commenters expressed outrage that this was the “scandal of the century” – others, however, wrote that the author of the entry was wrong and “it has always been like this”. Therefore, we analyzed the provisions of the Electoral Code before and after the launch of the Central Register of Voters on August 4. We have not noticed any changes in the procedure for joining the register, the voter roll or obtaining a certificate of voting rights. This was confirmed by Marcin Chmielnicki from the press office of the National Electoral Office in an interview with Konkret24. So we explain what has actually changed and why it does not affect the mentioned rules.
New register, but the same rules
The Central Register of Voters (CRW) is the main database of all voters in the country. It was created pursuant to an amendment to the Electoral Code adopted on January 26, 2023; has been operating since August 4. Previously, as Marcin Chmielnicki explains, voter registers (with the same data: surname, first names, PESEL number, date of birth, address of residence) were located in the IT systems of municipalities – and now there is one central register in the IT system of the Ministry of Digitization.
It replaces almost 2.5 thousand. registers. It serves the same purposes as municipal registers: to prepare voter lists and lists of persons entitled to participate in referenda; to confirm the right to vote. In addition, the CRW is used to determine the number of voters in the country. It contains, similarly to previous registers, the data of persons permanently registered in a given commune entered ex officio. Here is how the relevant provision of the Electoral Code changed in connection with the creation of the CRW:
Voters who are Polish citizens, registered in the commune for permanent residence, are entered into the voter register ex officio. Art. 18 par. 8 of the Electoral Code before the amendment
In the Central Register of Voters in part A, voters registered for permanent residence in the area of a given commune are ex officio included in the permanent voting circuit appropriate to the address of registration for permanent residence. Art. 19 par. 2 of the Electoral Code after the amendment
Therefore, there was only an editorial change in the provision, but the principle remained the same: the Central Register of Voters automatically includes data of voters with permanent residence in a given commune, as well as those who, during the previous elections, were added to the register of voters in their place of permanent residence.
What about voters who are not registered where they currently live or who want to vote elsewhere in the country? Here, the rules have not changed after the amendment to the Code. So we remind them below.
1. Checking data in the Central Register of Voters – Art. 36 of the Electoral Code
As we write above, the Central Register of Voters is a new thing, because it has been operating since August 4. Therefore, it is worth checking whether our data is in CRW and whether it is correct. We can do it in two ways. The first, traditional way, is to fill out a paper application for access to information about voter data processed in the Central Register of Voters – this is submitted to the commune office. We should receive the information immediately – in the form of a computer printout or electronically to the e-mail address provided. The second way, digital, is more convenient – we log in to the website mobywatel.gov.pl using the mObywatel application or via a trusted profile, e-ID or electronic banking. In the “Your data” tab, click on “Central Register of Voters” in the menu. We will then see our personal data, permanent address and information about our voting rights, as well as the address of the district electoral commission where we can vote and the numbers of districts in all general elections.
However, if it turns out that our data is not included in the CRW or is incorrect, you must submit a complaint to the commune office as described in Art. 22 of the Electoral Code. There are two ways to do it: either we do it in writing and go to the commune office, or we do it digitally – when we are logged in to our mobywatel.gov.pl profile – by clicking on the “Do you see an error in your personal data” tab on the website with electoral data? You can report it online.” The commune head (mayor, city president) has three days to consider the complaint. For this reason alone, it is worth checking your data in the Central Register of Voters as soon as possible.
2. Adding your data to CRW – art. 19 of the Electoral Code
If we do not have permanent residence in the commune where we live and we want to always vote there, we can (as was the case before) submit an application to the commune office. written application, as well as in electronic version on your profile on the website mobywatel.gov.pl for entry into the Central Register of Voters.
The procedure for verifying such an application has not changed: the amendment to the Electoral Code repeats the previous provision: “The commune head is obliged to check, in a manner determined by him, whether the person submitting an application for entry into the voter register meets the conditions of permanent residence in the area of a given commune.” Therefore, in addition to an identity document, the application must be accompanied by an ID document (e.g. in Warsaw) a statement from the owner of the apartment or a lease agreement, PIT or electricity bill. The commune head (city president, mayor) has five days to make a decision – so, taking into account the election date, it would be best to submit your data to the CRW by October 8 at the latest. Correct data in CRW gives us the right to participate in all elections and referenda in our place of permanent residence.
3. Changing the place of voting – art. 28 of the Electoral Code
As in previous elections, we have the right to vote outside our place of permanent residence. Then you must be added to the voter roll in the place where you intend to vote.
Note: the electoral register is different from the electoral register. The list is created for a specific vote; is a set of all people who have the right to vote in a given precinct – those permanently registered and those who have registered to vote in a given place.
Importantly: such a change is made only for the upcoming elections. This possibility is available to all Polish citizens who are over 18 years of age and have the right to vote. Therefore, this option can also be used by people living permanently abroad who will be in Poland on election day, or Poles who will be abroad on October 15.
In the application to change the voting place, you must provide your personal data (surname, first name, citizenship, PESEL) and the place where you will be on election day. The completed application in paper form should be submitted to the office of the commune where the candidate will be staying on election day; in electronic version – again via your profile on the website mobywastel.gov.pl. This should be done no later than three days before the elections – i.e. by October 12.
Submitting such an application means that we are automatically removed from the voter roll in the place of permanent residence – which means that we will not be able to vote there on October 15.
4. Application for a certificate of voting rights – Art. 32 of the Electoral Code
An easier way to ensure the right to vote outside your place of permanent residence – when we do not know where we will be on election day – is to obtain a certificate of voting rights. It allows you to vote at any district electoral commission in the country or abroad. In the application for such a certificate, we only provide the name, surname and PESEL number. We submit the application only in paper version, we have until October 12 to do so.
And here’s something new: we can do it in any municipality office in the country. A voter living abroad submits such an application to the appropriate consul. However, we collect the certificate in person with an identity document or by proxy.
However, after receiving such a certificate, we can no longer vote in our place of permanent residence.
It is important not to lose this certificate – duplicates or copies will not be issued.
How to vote to cast the correct vote
The certificates described above, as well as the voter rolls containing our data, will also be valid in the referendum, which will also take place on October 15. In the referendum and in the elections, voting will be carried out by the same district electoral commissions. This means we will vote in the same polling stations, and the completed ballots – the one for the Sejm elections, the one for the Senate elections and the one for the referendum – will be thrown into one ballot box.
The National Electoral Commission emphasizes that the vote in which a voter wants to participate “is the voter’s sole decision.” Moreover, it informs: “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 or her own discretion, to participate, e.g. – only in elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and to the Senate the Republic of Poland (without participation in the referendum); – only in the referendum (without participation in the elections to the Sejm and the Senate); – only in the elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (without participation in the elections to the Senate of the Republic of Poland and in the referendum); – etc. “.
After arriving at the polling station and showing the committee an ID document, the voter should inform the committee which ballot card(s) he or she does not want – if he or she really does not want to take part in any of the three votes. First, we show the committee an ID document, then we collect the voting cards – checking whether we have received the ones valid for the vote(s) in which we want to take part – and only then do we acknowledge their receipt by signing in the appropriate section of the voters’ list.
The completed ballots are placed in one ballot box. Only valid votes, i.e. correctly completed ballots, will count towards the results of elections or referendums – crosses must be placed in the appropriate boxes next to referendum questions or next to the selected names of candidates in the elections. Any additions on the ballot papers do not affect the validity of the vote.
A vote in parliamentary elections is invalid when: – an “x” is placed on the ballot paper in the box on the left side next to the names of two or more candidates from different lists – no “x” is placed in the box on the left side next to the name of any candidate candidate from any of the lists.
In a referendum, a vote is invalid if the “x” mark is not placed in any of the boxes in the answer to the question(s).
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