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The Commissioner for Human Rights asks the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the planned foreign voting precincts in the elections

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The Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights, Marcin Wiącek, asked the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, for information on the creation of planned foreign voting precincts and the announced possible increase in the number of these polling stations.

“The creation of an appropriate number of foreign voting circuits and the manner of their distribution, ensuring their accessibility, are crucial for the effective exercise by citizens residing abroad of their right specified in Article 62(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland” – he stressed Marcin Wiącek in his letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referring to the constitutional provision on the electoral rights of citizens. The letter was posted on Monday on the website of the Ombudsman’s Office.

A Polish citizen has the right to participate in a referendum and the right to elect the President of the Republic, deputies, senators and representatives to local government bodies, if he or she turns 18 on the day of voting at the latest.

According to the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights, “the need to ensure the proper organization of voting abroad in the upcoming elections in this regard is important because the still applicable provisions of the Electoral Code regarding this voting may lead to violation of the electoral rights of citizens residing abroad in the event of overloading of voting circuits outside territory of the Republic of Poland and delays in establishing its results.

According to the applicable provision of the Electoral Code, “if the relevant district electoral commission does not obtain the results of voting in voting circuits abroad or on Polish sea vessels within 24 hours from the end of voting (…) voting in these districts is considered not to have taken place”.

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Marcin WiącekMateusz Marek/PAP

As Wiącek pointed out in his letter, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights receives applications from citizens regarding the creation of foreign voting circuits in individual countries, and the intention to increase the number of such polling stations was confirmed in early May during a meeting of the Senate committees by the director of the MFA’s consular department, Marcin Jakubowski.

The Senate wants to extend the time to deliver the protocols to the country

In mid-May, the Senate adopted a draft amendment to the Electoral Code, which would extend the time from 24 to 48 hours for delivering to the country protocols from voting in precincts abroad during parliamentary, presidential and European Parliament elections.

“In the opinion of the senators, this change will eliminate the risk of a situation where a valid vote cast by a Polish citizen outside the country will not be taken into account for reasons completely independent of him, related only to the functioning of the electoral administration. It will also contribute to better protection of the constitutional guarantee of the use of active electoral law.” The project was sent to the Sejm.

The Commissioner for Human Rights asks the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the planned foreign voting circuitsTVN24

A group of senators came up with such a legislative initiative precisely in connection with the position of the Commissioner for Human Rights, stating that the provisions of the Electoral Code limit the constitutional rights of Poles residing abroad.

According to the Ombudsman, the time limit for counting votes in electoral commissions abroad violates the essence of electoral law. Wiącek asked the Marshals of the Sejm and the Senate to amend this provision of the Electoral Code.

Pursuant to the Electoral Code, voting circuits for Polish citizens residing abroad are “created, by way of an ordinance, by the minister responsible for foreign affairs, after consulting the National Electoral Commission, specifying their number and the seats of the precinct electoral commissions”.

Main photo source: TVN24

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