#12 UPDATE AND VERIFY THE VOTERS REGISTER
The Voters’ Register must be reliable (VC I.1.2), permanent (I.1.2.i), and regularly updated (I.1.2.ii). Besides, voters must be able to register and correct incorrect information in the Voters’ Register (I.1.2.iv, v). The Code of Good Practice states that the Voters’ Register must be published (I.1.2.iii), and this is indicated by the Copenhagen document which seeks to ensure that voting is conducted in secret and the official results are announced publicly. (CD 7.4). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:
a. Continue to update the Voters’ Register and make the process more transparent
Thanks to the electronic connection of birth and marriage registers with the Unified Voters’ Register, its updating has been improved in terms of reducing the number of possible errors that occur when entering data. This process should be continued in order to improve the transparency of the Voters’ Register update process and voters’ confidence in the quality of the update and it would be useful to periodically publish changes by type of change (data change, registration, deletion, etc.) by local selfgovernment units. The stated statistical presentation of changes could be published by the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government on the page of the site dedicated to the Voters’ Register. We distinguish the process of updating the Voters’ Register from the process of verification of the Voters’ Register, which refers to the independent and systematic verification of data in the Voters’ Register. The update process refers to the entry of data to the Voters’ Register, while verification means checking the authenticity of already entered data.
b. Organise a continuous training for officers who update the Voters’ Register
Regularly continue with trainings for all employees of the Ministry of the Public Administration and the Local Self-Government and units of the local self-government who update the Unified Voters’ Register so that potential problems during the updating or revision of the Voters’ Register would be avoided.
c. Identify practical problems in the Voters’ Register updating
It is necessary that the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government directly and intensively communicate with persons who update the Unified Voters’ Register in local self-government units in order to recognise the problems that these persons face in practice and to conduct effective training based on precisely identified problems that will lead to uniformity of their actions.
d. Continue and improve oversight over the work of persons handling the Voters’ Register
Although throughout 2019, the oversight of the Administrative Inspectorate over the work of employees who participate in the process of updating the Voters’ Register was noticeable, indicating an important change in practice, it is still necessary to continue an additionally improve the oversight in order to take notice of the improvement in actions that would result in a better organised Voters’ Register.
e. Facilitate citizens’ procedures for updating data in the Voters’ Register
It is necessary that the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, but also all local self-governments, publish the form for registration in the Voters’ Register on their websites and inform the citizens about the possibilities to electronically send the completed form with a copy of a valid personal document.
f. Publish the number of voters in the Voters’ Register by polling stations immediately after the determination of polling stations
In order to improve the transparency of the election process and prevent possible abuses, it is necessary to amend the relevant provisions of the Law on the Unified Voters’ Register, so that in addition to the obligation of the Republic Electoral Commission to announce the total number of voters in the Republic of Serbia, there would be an obligation to publish a preliminary number of voters in the Voters’ Register not only collectively, but also according to polling stations, immediately after polling stations have been determined.
g. Verify the Voters’ Register
It is necessary that the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, in a procedure that would include representatives of relevant institutions, political parties, civil society organisations, academic and international community after assessing the impact of data processing within the Voters’ Register verification process on personal data protection, verify the Voters’ Register on an appropriate sample in accordance with international standards and recognised methodologies. The aim of the verification would be to determine, in the field control procedure on the appropriate sample, the percentage of voters who are registered in the Voters’ Register but who emigrated from Serbia or who for another reason do not actually reside at the address entered in the Voters’ Register, as well as the percentage of deceased persons still registered and also the percentage of people who have the right to vote but who are not registered in the Voters’ Register. In addition, in the verification process, it is necessary that the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government engage a thorough statistical analysis by hiring IT experts, who would determine irregularities and illogicalities in the Unified Voters’ Register system itself (double entries, incorrect personal numbers, etc.). On September 26th, 2019, the Government of Serbia began the process of verifying the Voters’ Register, by forming a working group for the verification of the Voters’ Register. The mandate of this work group was extended in the second half of 2020.