Tirana Municipality, again without a winner

14/06/2011 00:00

Some minutes around midnight, and after many hours of consults, the Electoral College announced its decision regarding SP appeal, partially accepting it.
The College ordered the Central Election Commission (CEC) to count all contested ballots in all boxes.

The head of the judge panel that is treating this case, Dhurata Haveri, announced that EC partially accepts the SP appeal regarding miscast ballots.

But the Electoral College rejected the opposition’s request for declaring as invalid the result that came out of 117 boxes, opened after May 14th, for the fact that there were more ballots than voters.

This decision of the Electoral College orders to open all ballot boxes signed by commissioners for containing contested ballots, and this result will be added to the actual CEC result.

The decision is all inclusive, which means that CEC will not count only contested votes for the Mayor of Tirana, but also those for the Municipal Units, the Municipal Council and Council of Municipal Units.

More specifically, the College is ordering the same procedure followed by CEC for counting miscast ballots. This seems that will take a lot of time before giving the final result for Tirana mayoral Race.

Electoral College simply unclear?!

What the author meant? This is a common question in abstract literature. The ruling of the Electoral College should have been crystal clear. Until the announcement of explanatory arguments, the decision that judge Haveri read, if not unclear, leaves space to ambiguity. After midnight, during the new day, the ideas are clearer for the significance of this decision:

“Ordering the defendant party, Central Election Commission, to open, recount and reassess the contested ballots inside unopened boxes for Tirana Municipality in 368 Voting Centers. The boxes for Mayor, the Municipal Council , Municipal Unit and Council of the Municipal Unit, in order to look for votes mistakenly cast in the wrong boxes”, says the decision.

But the problem is that miscast ballots are not contested ballots, an understanding given by article 118 of the Electoral Code. According to the Code, contested ballots are those which have been contested by commission members or observers. During the recount, these ballots are left aside and when the counting process is over, contested ballots are instantaneously reassessed by the respective Zonal Election Commission.

The result declared by Zonal Election Commission in written down in the protocol book and is copied in the tabulator that corresponds to that voting center. For each contested ballot, the First Counting Commissioner of the Counting Group, writes in the back of the ballot paper the reasons why that ballot was contested. There is a special register for contested ballots, a model approved by CEC, in which is shown the general number of contested ballots for each Voting Center. By the end, contested ballots and their respective register is closed in the envelope of “contested ballots”. But miscast votes have not been contested during the counting process, because the counters were trained to call those ballots as invalid. The contestation, not in the way law provides, but simply through the notes written down in protocol books, was made after May 14th, when the last ballot was counted by Democratic Party ZEC members. Only based in these data, CEC acted like a SuperZEC for Tiranaand reassessed miscast ballots in 117 voting centers.

If the Electoral College meant with his decision that CEC must reassess miscast ballots, based on the number of contested ballots noted down for the unopened ballot boxes, CEC will not find anything, because no one contested miscast ballots.

There is another possibility: the College might have unwillingly created an unclear element by saying the phrase “contested ballots in unopened boxes of electoral materials”. Later, the College mentions “368 Voting Centers for the Mayor of Tirana, the Municipal Council, the Municipal Unit and the Council of the Municipal Unit, in order to look for votes mistakenly cast in the wrong boxes”. The phrase makes you think that all four boxes of 368 voting centers will be opened, 1472 in total, looking for miscast ballots. This is the meaning that OSCE ambassador seemed to have understood. But even in this case, the Electoral College decision is incomplete, because in 117 Voting Centers, CEC opened only the boxes of the Tirana Mayor, not those of the Municipal Council, Municipal Unit or Council for Municipal Units.

In this case, the “equal treatment” that ambassador Wollfarth mentioned is incomplete. The decision of the Electoral College doesn’t oblige CEC to answer for the inconsistencies between the number of total voters and total ballots. This is another element that does not help the process integrity. Maybe the Electoral College will keep in mind the messy idea that was given to the public opinion, and prepare for giving a more specific explanatory argument. Only then will we institutionally know what the author meant.

Top Channel