Official notification of voters in their places of residence is a legal requirement, according to article 52 of the Electoral Code
Pursuant to its mission, the Albanian Helsinki Committee, conducted during October 21-26, 2020, an observation in 11 local government units of Tirana in order to find out on site whether the voters’ lists had been published within the legal deadline. This legal requirement had been respected.
The monitoring also focused on whether heads of local government units had begun the notification in writing of voters in their residences about their polling station, the address of the polling station, and their number on the voters’ lists. It resulted that this legal requirement was not fulfilled because the Ministry of Internal Affairs had failed to grant the necessary funds. It is worth mentioning that this legal obligation should have concluded within December 6, 2020, referring to paragraph 1, article 52 of the Electoral Code.
On November 2, 2020, AHC notified officially the State Commissioner on Elections about the results of this observation. AHC expressed the concern about failure to notify voters in their residences and suggested that the CEC, pursuant to article 52 of the Electoral Code, notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Since we did not have any information on what happened with the above suggestion, based on law no. 119/2014 “On the right to information,” we addressed the State Commissioner on Elections again on December 16, 2020.
On 22.12.2020, instead of responding to our official letters of November 2 and December 16 that talked about our suggestion to allocate the funds to notify voters in their residences, the State Commissioner for Elections mentioned Instruction no. 1, dated 05.12.2020 “Setting the regulations for the establishment, assignment, and notification of the location of voting centers and preparation of the local government unit map for the elections” and paragraph 6, article 52 of the Electoral Code.
It is worth stressing that the above Instruction, approved on December 5, 2020, while according to article 52, paragraph 1, of the Electoral Code, the written notification of voters in their residences should have concluded on December 6, 2020. As in December 2020, AHC conducted partial surveys in January 2021 in Tirana and some other districts of the country and it resulted that the official notification of voters has not been carried out.
Paragraph 6, article 52, notes “The mayor at least once per week and every time requested by the CEC, reports on the implementation of provisions set in this article.”
In spite of correspondence with the Commissioner, AHC does not possess information as to what is written in these reports by Mayors, regarding the implementation of paragraph 2 (notification of voters in writing) and paragraph 5, article 52 of the Electoral Code (allocation of funds by the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
AHC deems it necessary to suggest again that, pursuant to article 52 of the Electoral Code, the CEC asks the Ministry of Internal Affairs to allocate the relevant funds to enable, even beyond the legal deadline, the notification in writing of voters in their places of residence.
In spite of the workload and volume of work the CEC is faced with in these first months of its activity, after considerable changes to the Electoral Code, the suggestions of the Albanian Helsinki Committee to the CEC in official correspondence and in this press statement, rely fully on article 12, paragraph 1 of the Electoral Code, article 19, letter “dh” of the Electoral Code and article 52, paragraph 6 of the Electoral Code, and law no. 119/2014 “On the right to information.”
AHC deemed it necessary to make its pronouncement public on this issue because it has to do with the highest interest of voters, the legal obligation of the state to notify them in their places of residence, which would enable the exercise of their right to seek correction of the voters lists in cases prescribed by law.
In conclusion, AHC deems it necessary to emphasize that while access to the published voter lists is a right, official notification in their places of residence is a legal obligation.