#20 INCREASE CAPACITIES OF THE POLLING STATION COMMISSIONS
Electoral commission members must undergo standard training (VC II.3.1.g), and must be expert on election issues (II.3.1.d.ii), while political parties must be equally represented in electoral commissions (II.3.1.e). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:
a. Introduce a legal obligation to issue licenses to members of permanent compositions of polling station committees
In order to achieve the necessary level of competence of members of polling station committees, it is necessary to amend the relevant provisions of the Law on Election of Members of the Parliament and the Law on Local Elections and condition membership in the polling station committee with an appropriate license issued by the Republic Electoral Commission. (See article 31 of the Unified Electoral Law.)
b. Announce the composition of polling station committees immediately after the formation of a permanent composition, with information on training and licensing
It is necessary to amend the Law on Election of Members of the Parliament and the Law on Local Elections and oblige the electoral commissions to publish the Decision on the appointment of a permanent polling station committee on its website immediately after its adoption. The Decision should contain the names of members of all permanent polling station committee members and other information relevant for their appointment, including information on the acquired license to perform the duties of a member of the polling station committee. Since an objection to the improper composition of the polling station committee can be submitted to the electoral commission only within 24 hours from the time of the Decision on the appointment of the members of the polling station committee, the adoption of this recommendation would enable efficient use of this legal remedy. (See article 3 of the Unified Electoral Law.)
c. Prescribe by the law obligatory trainings and exams for the members of electoral committees
Amend article 34 of the Law on the Election of Members of the Parliament and article 15 of the Law on Local Elections prescribing new competencies to the REC, and to the MEC/CEC, to organise in the pre-election period, a compulsory training for all members of polling station committees about rules and procedures for the work of polling station committees. It is particularly important to establish an exam system for candidates for permanent composition of a polling station committee, as this should result in a larger capacities of polling station committees to conduct the elections. It is foreseen by a Conclusion dated December 2nd, 2019, i.e. a by-law, that trainings for work in polling stations should be held, while the process of organising and conducting trainings is specified by the Decision on organising and conducting trainings for work in the permanent composition of polling stations dated December 20th, 2019. A training programme, a manual, a presentation accompanying the manual, as well as exercises to check the knowledge of the participants were conceived. There are no data on the number of people who successfully completed the training. Since the obligation to train and test polling station members was implemented through a by-law, and since no obligation was introduced that only trained persons could be members of polling stations, this element should be defined by a law. (See article 30 of the Unified Electoral Law.)
d. Adopt the rulebook for educators for trainings of members of polling station committees who conduct local elections
The Decision on the organisation and implementation of trainings for work in the permanent composition of polling stations and the Training Programme were adopted by the REC on December 20th, 2019, the manner of hiring educators for the training of members of polling station committees was regulated, however, there is no information that local electoral commissions have assumed this recommendation. It is therefore necessary that all electoral commissions adopt, as a by-law the Rulebook on procedures and criteria for selection and engagement of consultants, trainers and educators for polling stations committees’ members training. The adoption of the said Rulebook is indispensable in order to conduct such training by independent experts in the field of electoral legislature.
e. Reorganise the composition of the polling station committees – parties that do not have members in the permanent composition cannot have members in the extended composition
Bearing in mind that the current composition of polling station committees cannot respond to the request to conduct the Election Day in accordance with established rules and procedures, it is necessary to reorganise their composition. The suggested modifications of the electoral legislation would prevent political entities that have a representative in the standing composition of the polling station committee from having/realising that right in the extended composition of the committee. Moreover, due to a large number of members, the current composition of the polling station committees cannot respond to the need to improve their work through timely and quality education of committee members. On the other hand, the reduction of the members of the polling committee, without denying electoral lists the right to have their representatives on the Election Day, shall provide significant monetary savings in the election process.