STATEMENT The institutions have to protect, and not violate the right to vote!
CIVIL Announcement, October 9, 2018
CIVIL – Center for Freedom once again, as in previous years, is strongly reacting to the serious violation of the right to vote, which is due to the poor Voters Register and the rigidness of the institutions.
Obviously, the institutions, starting from the election administration and ending with the Parliament, have not shown sufficient sense of hearing for their own shortcomings, while the consequences of their inability to solve the problems have once again been bore by the citizens with a right to vote. Despite CIVIL’s alarming and recommendations in the past, in which it was clearly, loudly and unequivocally pointed to the violations of the right to vote, the institutions and the parliamentary political parties have not found the time to create decent conditions for every citizen appearing at the polling station to exercise the right to vote.
Hence, the number of citizens with the right to vote who do not succeed to vote due to various, sometimes even extremely banal reasons, is not small. CIVIL’s observers, at the referendum, as in previous election processes, reported on the inability of some voters to vote. If the UV lamp does not work, it is the voter who bears the consequences for this. If the voters are not on the Voters Register, he or she simply cannot vote, regardless of the fact that they had figured on it during the electronic checking. Some of them could not vote because the validity of their identification document had expired, although they are on the Voters Register. Some voters had been prevented from voting because first they had been marked, only to determine that they had been moved from one polling station to another polling station, where they can no longer vote, because they had already been marked at the previous place where they had tried to vote.
Not to mention at all the inability for those travelling abroad to vote. Part of the prisoners or those in hospitals also did not manage to exercise their fundamental right, the right to vote, precisely because of the system not being updated and the shortcomings in the legal regulations. Something that in the neighbouring countries is solved in a simple and easy way, without burdening the budget, nor the people in the administration. However, in Macedonia, thousands of people who went to vote with a smile, came back home insulted and revolted. It is incredible how this situation keeps repeating, while nobody is ashamed of it and does nothing about it, and it only takes just a bit of work. And even if they were lazy to delete the phantoms and deceased persons, it is hard to understand how they allow for there to constantly be people who fail to exercise their right to vote. Even one such case is too much!
If just one observer of CIVIL manages to register over 100 voters whose right had been denied, in just one municipality, one can only imagine the proportions of this problem. But there is no institutional response, nor a will to determine the number of persons who have returned from the polling stations without voting.
The State Election Commission and the legislative house, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, do not have a single excuse for their inefficiency and inability to fulfil their constitutional obligation – to provide for the respect of the right to vote. It is high time for the problems to be solved, immediately, without a minute delay.
CIVIL, ODIHR and many other relevant domestic and international organizations, have been for years pointing to the need for the right to vote to be respected. In the recommendations it is constantly stated that the voter has to be allowed to vote, if he or she has a document with which they can confirm their identity.
There is no excuse for the ignorant behaviour of the institutions and the election administration.
Ahead of the election processes, regardless of whether it is about early or regular elections, or a referendum, CIVIL categorically demands from the institutions and political parties to never again allow violation of the right to vote.
Not much effort is needed to respect the Constitution, according to which, in Article 2, ‘In the Republic of Macedonia sovereignty derives from the citizens and belongs to the citizens. The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia exercise their authority through democratically elected Representatives, through referenda and through other forms of direct expression’. The right to vote is one of the fundamental values of the constitutional order of Republic of Macedonia, according to which ‘political pluralism and free, direct and democratic elections’ are guaranteed (Article 8). If the Constitution, as the highest legal act, says ‘Every citizen who has attained the age of 18 years acquires the right to vote. The right to vote is equal, universal and direct, and is exercised at free elections by secret ballot’ (Article 22), it means that the institutions have the obligation to ensure it.
Every citizen appearing at the polling station, whose identity can be determined according to a document for personal identification from which it can be seen that the person is a citizen of Republic of Macedonia – should vote. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right.
There is nothing more simple than that.