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Formation of election commissions

23.11.2017 10:06

International obligations do not contain direct reference to the composition of election commissions.However, the ability of the electoral administration to enable, implement and enforce international obligations is dependent, among other factors, on the composition and operation of election commissions.

Composition of Election Commissions

Articles 34 to 36 of the Electoral Law

 

International obligations do not contain direct reference to the composition of election commissions.However, the ability of the electoral administration to enable, implement and enforce international obligations is dependent, among other factors, on the composition and operation of election commissions.

 

International standards

CCPR GC 25: An independent electoral authority should be established to supervise the electoral process and to ensure that it is conducted fairly, impartially, and in accordance with established laws which are compatible with the Covenant.

UNCAC Article 7(1)(a): States must ensure transparency, efficiency, and equity in the recruitment of officials.

CCPR GC25, GC 32: To ensure access [to public service positions] on general terms of equality, the criteria and processes for appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal must be objective and reasonable.

OSCE ODIHR Review of Electoral Legislation and Practice in OSCE Participating States, 2013:

The impartiality and independence of the election administration of Belarus has been questioned (report on 2012 elections), including a lack of functional separation of EMBs and executive bodies or direct or implicit influence of state bodies on EMBs.

 

Existing law

Current commissions at territorial and lower level are nominated by joint meetings of presidiums of councils and presidiums of executive authority, except at precinct level where only the local administration is involved.

 

Proposed amendment

  • The current law provides that ‘as a rule’ more than one third of the membership of most ECs should be representatives of political parties or other public associations.  This may be read as giving unduly wide discretion.  The comment (ODIHR and Venice Commission 2013) that there are no criteria for making these appointments does not appear to be addressed by the amendment.
  • The proposed amendment would include representatives of candidates for President as members of ECs and give priority at other levels to representatives of political parties that have nominated candidates, with remaining seats on ECs filled by lot from nominations for representatives made by public associations and citizens.
  • Drawing of lots for public association and citizen members of ECs requires a decision (or better, a specification in law) of how many positions are to be filled.
  • Precinct election commissions (PECs) currently have between ‘5 and 19’ members; the proposed amendment changes this to ‘at least 5’. 
  • The proposed amendment removes the exemption of PECs for voting at inpatient medical facilities from the current rules regarding composition, and thus improves the harmonisation of Belarus law with existing Belarus commitments.
  • The proposed amendment provides a shorter period for the activity of PECs, reduced from 45 days to 20 days before an election, and staying as 20 days before a referendum or a recall. The review of the electoral register, for which PECs have responsibility, starts 15 days before an election, a referendum, or a recall.  Is 5 days sufficient for a PEC to get a full grip on the register review process before it starts?
  • The proposed amendment provides that political party, public association and citizen representatives can read and view the documents on an EC nomination process, in addition to being present at the sittings of the body forming the EC as is currently the case.  This would improve harmonisation of Belarus law with existing Belarus commitments under ICCPR and UNCAC.

 

Comparative material

Russian Federation, Law on Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens to Participate in a Referendum, 2002

Articles 23(7), 24(8), 25(7), 26(7) and 27(5)

These articles provide that at all levels, at least half the membership of all electoral commissions at a lower level than the CEC consists of members chosen from among the nominations of political parties and electoral blocs running candidates.

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