Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights published the second
preliminary report on May 8th elections, noting the deadline
infringements made by the Central Election Commission for the election
The report states that the Central Election Commission (CEC) voted unanimously for the technical and administrative election preparations, but has voted with partial tendencies the issues discussed between the Democratic and Socialist Party.
The report states that the deadlines for assigning the locations of the Vote Counting Centers (VCC) have not been respected. Same goes for the selection of the parties that have the right to nominate the third and the fourth member of the VCC groups, while most of the 66 Zonal Election Commissions (ZEC) have not taken any proposition for the members of the Voting Center Commission.
ZEC members training for the voting and counting procedures was expected to start on April 26th, two weeks later than the initial plan. The report expresses its concern on the location assignment of some voting centers, which has spurred debates between the parties, after being assigned in private facilities.
ODIHR has discovered that almost every municipality has voting centers with more voters than the legal limit of 1000 electors, in some cases 2000 voters.
The issue of the voters’ list, according to ODIHR, shows inconsistencies between the general voters number in the CEC final lists and the voters number declared by the Interior Ministry.
“Local authorities have not followed uniform procedures for the handing over of the Final List at the ZECs”, the report says.
ODIHR considers alarming and concerning the fact that almost 40% of the voters in the Final Lists, all over Albania, do not have the specific resident code. These are mainly emigrants or citizens without a registered address.
This number varies, but it’s higher in Vlore, with 54%, and in Durrës, with 51%. This issue has happened even in the previous elections.
The accusations for pressure on state administration employees and students have also been mentioned in the report. OSCEODIHR considers as true three cases when teachers have been pressured to participate in the Democratic Party campaign, but up to now, they have not been able to confirm other accusations.
The report says that both parties have expressed their concerns regarding possible irregularities that have happened in the past during the voting process on the Election Day, or Vote Counting Commissions being impeded to continue their work, especially in Tirana.
“Pre-edited videos”, ODIHR against CEC
ODIHR has also taken a stand against CEC and Media Monitoring Board Members.
The most recent CEC decision that obliges media to broadcast electoral news reports pre-edited by the political parties’ headquarters was seen by ODIHR as a decision that goes beyond the Election Code, giving to the parties the competence of specifying the news distribution and coverage.
ODIHR says that this decision allows political parties to affect the editorial decisions of the private media. In a more specific way, the report mentions the case of Top Channel, Ora News and News24 who, for the first time in Albania, declared that they will not broadcast news reports pre-edited by the political parties.
The Democratic Party pretends that as result, these media have offered insufficient and impartial coverage to their candidate for the Tirana Municipality, while the media pretends that they have not been previously notified for his electoral activities.
TV stations like Top Channel, News 24 and Vision Plus have balanced the broadcasting time between the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party. The private TV station, Klan, has covered more widely and positively the government officials and the Democratic Party.