MEP Janina Ochojska stated that “many things indicate” that the presidential election in 2020 was rigged. According to her, it is certain that “votes from abroad have not been counted.” But there is no evidence for this, and the National Electoral Commission strongly denies it and talks about undermining the legitimacy of the elected president.
Janina Ochojska, MEP from the Civic Coalition, in conversation in Radio Zet On April 21, she referred to the presidential election in 2020, in which – let us recall – Andrzej Duda defeated Rafał Trzaskowski. Ochojska stated that for her, Trzaskowski is the real president of Poland. When the interviewer, Bogdan Rymanowski, asked: “The elections were rigged?”, the MEP replied: “Many things indicate that.” And when asked, “Like what?” she said, “For example many votes from abroad were not taken into account (All boldfaces in the text are the editors’ own). And there are calculations that show that if these votes were counted, there are still some uncertain situations, the difference in votes was so small that President Trzaskowski could be the president of Poland “- assessed Ochojska. Then she added that these are circumstantial evidence after which she repeated:It is certain that the votes from abroad have not been counted“.
We checked the words of the politician.
Changes in the electoral code. Time to count the cards
Ochojska’s words about the alleged non-counting of heads from abroad in the 2020 elections were made during the public discussion on the changes to the Electoral Code introduced at the end of January 2023, which relate to the counting of votes of the Polish community. The changes are all the more important, because they were introduced a few months before the autumn parliamentary elections. Among other things, the provision about it is controversialthat commissions in foreign circuits and on Polish sea vessels will have only 24 hours to count the votes. Otherwise, the vote will be considered null and void. The opposition and experts have been warning for months that this is a threat to the constitutional rights of citizens.
According to the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights, this provision of the Electoral Code “violates the essence of electoral law, which means the possibility of deciding on public matters and direct exercise of power (Article 4(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland) through participation in elections”. Marcin Wiącek appealed to the Marshals of the Sejm and the Senate to amend the provision.
There is a difference between not being able to vote and not having your vote counted
In publicly available sources, we have not found reliable information, data or allegations about uncounted votes of the Polish community during the last presidential election. We have not reached the statements of experts or politicians on this subject, which would prove the truth of the MEP’s thesis. So we asked Ochojska herself if she could give us the source or data from which she derives her claim that “votes from abroad were not counted” – but she was unable to do so. She merely repeated her theses from the quoted radio interview.
The information we found relates to the fact that some voters in 2020 did not receive electoral packages. Depending on the country, it was then possible to vote in person or by post (due to the coronavirus pandemic). He then intervened in this case Ombudsman. This was pointed out in the opinion sent to us by Wojciech Dąbrówka, spokesman for the National Electoral Commission in 2018-2019, when we asked him about the words of the MEP: – At that time, the vote of many compatriots from abroad was not taken into account mainly because they did not receive the ordered correspondence voting packages. The deadlines provided for in the electoral calendar did not facilitate this process either. The state should organize the voting in such a way as to give voters the opportunity to vote, and not just to maintain the appearance of such a possibility – explained Dąbrówka Konkret24. However, it is something else the inability to participate in the elections, and in other words, the failure to count or take into account the votes cast. This, according to Dąbrówka, would mean “forgery and on a large scale.”
The current PKW spokesman also questions Ochojska’s statement. – It’s not true. All votes received by precinct electoral commissions in the country and abroad in the elections of the President of the Republic of Poland in 2020, both in the first and in the second round of elections, were counted, transferred to the constituency electoral commissions and taken into account by the National Electoral Commission when determining the results of the election of the President of the Republic of Poland – informs us Marcin Chmielnicki. He emphasizes that “after the elections, the National Electoral Commission did not receive any information that the commissions did not count at least one vote. Such allegations did not appear in the election protests filed after the elections either.”
Chmielnicki considers that perhaps Janina Ochojska meant not the votes not counted by the commissions, but the difference between the number of electoral packages delivered to voters by post and the number of return envelopes received by the precinct commissions. – Nevertheless, even assuming purely hypothetically that all voters whose return envelopes were not received by the precinct commissions voted and all voted for a candidate who did not receive a majority of votes [Rafała Trzaskowskiego]the number of these voters, i.e. 89,480, is incomparably smaller than the difference in votes between the candidates – 422,385. Therefore, it had no impact on the outcome of the election – sums up Chmielnicki.
– Giving false information about the alleged incorrect determination of the election results, as exemplified by the quoted statement, leads to a weakening of citizens’ trust in the elections, which in turn causes a reduction in the voter turnout, and also leads to undermining the legitimacy of the bodies elected in them – assessed the PKW spokesman.
Supreme Court: The elections were important
According to PKW data Andrzej Duda won the presidential election in 2020, defeating Rafał Trzaskowski in the second round. In the first round, 8,450,513 people voted for Duda, 5,917,340 for Trzaskowski; including abroad: 64,904 and 149,735 respectively. In the second round, 10,440,648 votes were cast for President Duda, and 10,018,263 for his opponent; including abroad: 107,647 and 308,304 votes respectively. The difference between the two politicians in the first round was 2,533,173 votes, in the second – 422,385.
On August 3, 2020, the Supreme Court declared the validity of the election of Andrzej Duda as President of Poland. He informed while out of nearly 6,000 93 of the electoral protests were legitimate, but did not affect the outcome of the election. We checked: none of the recognized protests concerned the issue of not counting votes cast outside Poland.
Main photo source: Alexei Vitwicki/Forum