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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Questions about voting abroad. “Every vote cast correctly in the elections should count”

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Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast abroad during the presidential elections. Over 300,000 in the first round, over 400,000 in the second. These are Poles who live outside Poland, but also Poles who are abroad temporarily. It is obvious that people in such a situation will also want to vote in October – in the parliamentary elections. It is not obvious whether this will succeed.

Will there be more voting districts abroad? When will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announce their list? When will the Polish community be able to register for the elections? There are plenty of questions for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Pursuant to Article 230 of the Electoral Code, foreign electoral commissions have 24 hours from the end of the elections to count the votes cast. If they fail to do so, voting in these precincts will be considered null and void. Since all members of the commission are to be present when the votes are counted, because they will have to count not only ballots for the elections to the Sejm and Senate, but also referendum cards, there are serious concerns that the votes of the Polish community will be wasted. In the spring, the head of the National Electoral Office assured that this would not happen, but in the summer she began to have doubts because “there was no question of a referendum then.”

The more precincts and the more committee members, the easier it will be to vote and count the votes. It is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that decides how many foreign commissions will be established, but their list has not yet been announced. The Polish community votes on Warsaw electoral lists. In the previous parliamentary elections, almost 350,000 people abroad were entitled to vote. Ultimately, 314,000 voted, or almost 90 percent. These votes from the Polish community constituted as much as one fourth of all votes cast for the Warsaw lists.

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– One cannot resist the impression that the government wants the turnout in the Polish elections to be as low as possible. First, Poles abroad were denied the opportunity to vote by correspondence, then a 24-hour limit was introduced for counting votes, and now the announcement of the list of electoral commissions abroad is being delayed in order to delay the process of registering to vote – warns Robert Tyszkiewicz, chairman of the Communications Commission.

Are the voices of the Polish community at risk? Activists are calling on the authorities to change the regulationsJakub Loska/Fakty o Świecie TVN24 BiS

Advocate’s concerns

Objections to the provisions of the Electoral Code, which limit the time for counting votes to 24 hours, have been raised by the opposition, but also by the Commissioner for Human Rights. He explains that this is a threat to the basic rights of citizens in a democratic country. – Restricting the use of constitutional freedoms and rights of a citizen may not violate their essence. Meanwhile, the time limit for counting votes in foreign districts violates the essence of active electoral law. Every correctly cast vote should count, emphasizes Marcin Wiącek.

Poles voting abroad have no influence on the procedural organization of the elections. They fulfill their civic duty. They often wait in a long queue to the ballot box, but it may turn out that due to – as the Commissioner for Human Rights puts it – inefficient election administration – their vote will not be counted.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

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