#18 INCREASE THE TRANSPARENCY OF THE WORK OF THE ELECTION ADMINISTRATION BODIES
The election administration ensures free and fair voting, and publicly announces the official results (CD 7.4). There must be the possibility of monitoring the work of the election administration (VC II.3.1.e) as well as the manner of its decision-making (II.3.1.h). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:
a. Timely publishing of scanned Minutes on the work of the polling station committees on the web-sites of the electoral commissions
By adopting the Conclusion on measures for the improvement of the election process from December 2nd, 2020, the REC has formally undertaken the obligation to publish the Minutes on the work of the polling station committees. However, although the REC published the Minutes on the work of the polling station committees in their entirety, they did not do it a timely manner. In practice, the Minutes were published after the deadline for complaints. The Minutes from all polling stations were published just over two weeks after the Election Day. Given that irregular minutes or minutes containing serious errors can be a basis for repeated elections, and may therefore be a reason to complain about the identified shortcomings, the REC should be constraint by the deadline by which all minutes are published in a timely manner, as soon as possible, immediately upon receipt of the scanned minutes by the Working Body. Given that this action is prescribed by the Instructions for the Conduct of Voting, which are subject to changes for each election cycle, it is recommended to amend Articles 76 or 77 of the Law on the Election of Members of the Parliament in order to determine the obligation of the REC to publish scanned minutes on its website immediately upon receipt from the Working Bodies for each polling station, and no later than 12 hours from the closing of polling stations. The same provision should be implemented in the Law on Local Elections, which would apply to municipal/city electoral commissions. Published minutes should have metadata, or otherwise allow for the search of minutes by polling station. (See articles 115, 127.of the Unified Electoral Law.)
b. Timely publishing of all documents from plenary sessions and the sessions of working groups on the REC web-site
The REC started publishing the decisions on complaints as well as all adopted documents from the REC sessions. However, the draft working documents, the agenda, the report on voting from the sessions were not published during the 2020 election process. This is why it is necessary to change the practice of the republic, municipal and city electoral commissions so that all materials and documents from the plenary sessions and meetings of the working groups would be published in the format which is appropriate for further use (e.g. CSV, DOC, XLS) on the corresponding web-site of the said commissions. (See article 3 of the Unified Electoral Law.)
c. Timely publication of shorthand notes and the results of the vote at the commission sessions
In the 2020 election process, the REC has adopted the practice of live coverage of plenary sessions and of the procedure for submitting electoral lists, as well as of publishing footages in the archives on the website. However, the results of the voting and the shorthand notes were not published in any way during the 2020 election process. This is why it is necessary to supplement the REC Rules of Procedure with a regulation which anticipates publication of transcripts from every REC session on the REC website, as well as the results of the election in a format appropriate for further use (e.g. CSV, DOC, XLS). A necessary precondition for the implementation of this recommendation is the improvement of technical, informational and professional capacities of the Expert Service of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the general improvement of the internal system for submitting materials for sessions of republic, municipal and city electoral commissions.
d. Improve the REC online sessions
In order to ensure publicity and discussion of members at electronic sessions of the REC, as well as efficient decision-making, it is necessary to amend the REC Rules of Procedure in order to introduce the use of some of the available video communication platforms (such as “Zoom”). In this way, a more efficient discussion among the REC members would be enabled, and the publicity guaranteed, through the presence of accredited observers.