#11 ENSURE EQUAL VOTING RIGHT FOR ALL CATEGORIES OF VOTERS
The general suffrage in principle means that each individual has the right to vote and to be elected (VC I.1.1) and must be equal, i.e. each voter has one vote (I.2.1). Residence may be prescribed as a condition of the right to vote (I.1.1.c), and the right to vote and to be elected may be granted to citizens living abroad (I.1.1.c.v). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:
a. Introduce educational campaign for citizens about election rules and procedures
It is necessary that all relevant institutions that organise and conduct the elections in Serbia launch a comprehensive campaign to inform citizens about the most important election rules and procedures that ensure the legality and integrity of the process, as well as voter rights and ways to protect voters’ rights. Although in the previous period some institutions had educational campaigns (the REC, public media service), other institutions that have election-related powers (the REM, the Agency) did not conduct visible voter education campaigns.
b. Define the method of submitting notifications to vote
Due to the frequent occurrence of delivering notifications to vote to addresses where voters do not live, it is necessary to more clearly define the manner of delivering these notifications in accordance with the conditions prescribed by procedural laws for some other types of proceedings (Civil Procedure Code/Criminal Procedure Code). There may be another way to submit a voting notification that would be depersonalised, and that would contain key information about the date and place of the election where the tenants of a particular housing unit (buildings/gates/houses) vote.)
c. Unify election rules on holding elections on non-working days
In order to establish the obligation to hold parliamentary and local elections on non-working days (Saturdays and Sundays), it is necessary to amend the Law on the Election of members of the Parliament and the Law on Local Elections. This obligation in the current legal framework exists only in the provision of article 5, paragraph 2 of the Law on the Election of the President of the Republic. (See article 8. of the Unified Electoral Law.)
d. Set up standards for voting of blind and visually impaired persons
In the previous practice of conducting the elections, by-laws and the accompanying regulations did not contain provisions on the implementation of standards that would allow voting of blind and visually impaired persons. The Instruction for the Conduct of Voting and the Rulebook on the Work of Polling Stations Committees have been supplemented with recommendations for the implementation of unhindered voting for persons with physical and sensory disabilities. The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government enabled both blind and visually impaired people to check the data in the Unified Voters’ Register on the website. It is necessary to continue to regularly include standards in the adoption of by-laws that would ensure that blind and visually impaired persons can exercise their right to vote in an appropriate manner.
e. Suspend deletion of voters from the voters’ register with passivated place of residence
Since in the previous period, the Ministry of the Interior submitted reports to the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self Government on the basis of which voters whose address of residence was passivated were deleted from the Unified Voters’ Register, it is necessary that this practice, since there are no solid grounds in the law, be stopped. In the current laws in Serbia, passivation of the address of residence does not represent a legal basis for deregistration of residence, but only the record data of the competent authority that the citizen does not live at the address of registered residence, based on which emanates the citizen’s obligation to register residence, or if they fail to do so, the obligation of the competent authority (Ministry of the Interior) to determine the address of residence. Citizens whose addresses have been passivated should, from the standpoint of the voter’s right, remain registered in the Voters’ Register with the last known address of residence, until the moment of change of residence or allocation of residence by the competent authority. In the event that the Ministry of the Interior determines the residence of citizens whose residence is passivated, such a change would entail a change of residence in the Voters’ Register, which means that the citizen could exercise their right to vote at another polling station (to which the new residence address belongs).
f. Liberalise the condition for opening of polling stations abroad
It is necessary to Modify the Law on Election of Members of the Parliament so that there is an obligation to open for voting every diplomatic and consular representation of the Republic of Serbia abroad, regardless of the number of voters registered for the vote. The existing solution in the Law on the Election of Members of the Parliament has a restrictive character for voters living abroad, since it prescribes a minimum of 100 voters to open a polling station, regardless of whether it refers to polling stations abroad or in Serbia. The right of voters to vote abroad should not be limited in practice by this condition.
g. Conduct elections in Kosovo in accordance with the Law and decisions of the Constitutional Court
An open dialogue and debate should help establish a quality solution supported by an electoral legislature for the implementation of elections in the territory of Kosovo, which will acknowledge the Decision of the Constitutional Court from 2016. According to the interpretation of the Constitutional Court, the manner of determining the election results from polling stations in Kosovo, which implies that the material from the polling stations is transferred to Raška and Vranje, where votes are counted and the results are determined, is not in accordance with the Constitution and law. Therefore, it is necessary to form a miscellaneous working group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the REC, the Constitutional Court, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and a civil society that would have to create a legal proposal for organising and implementing the electoral process in Kosovo which would subsequently find its place in the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament.