Promo-LEX, a non-partisan non-governmental organization that seeks to advance democracy and promote human rights in Moldova, has found that, after conducting its parallel vote tabulation of all 1962 domestic polling stations, its Quick Count findings were within the margin of error and confirm the preliminary official tabulation by the Central Election Commission of domestic votes. An annex is attached illustrating the results. Promo-LEX analysis covered both the quality of electoral processes as well as actual vote tabulation.
“I’m sure that as a result of collaboration and partnerships between the electoral stakeholders that the elections have been carried out successfully and have been recognized as more democratic by several categories of observers,” said Deputy Head of the monitoring effort, Pavel Postica. “On behalf of the Promo-LEX central team, I thank all our observers for their dedication and professionalism throughout the monitoring mission.”
Promo-LEX found that although election day was long and, in many cases, conditions in the polling stations were very difficult, often lacking proper heat and lighting, the counting and tabulation of results was generally conducted in an orderly manner and in good faith. The vast majority of protocols were completed without major flaws. Out of 1962 protocols, only four had inconsistencies that were serious enough to require a recount at the polling station. These concerns were eventually resolved. Promo-LEX appreciates that polling station and district election council officials were mostly cooperative and appeared to be working in good faith to carry out their duties.
Furthermore, according to Promo-LEX’s statistical observation, 99 percent of polling stations opened on time with ballot boxes shown to be empty before sealing and voting booths arranged to ensure the secrecy of the vote. In 94 percent of polling stations there were no complaints by competitors or voters and in 92 percent of Promo-LEX observers were shown ballot papers during the vote count, allowing them to confirm final tabulation numbers.
With no evidence of fraud or major wrongdoing, Promo-LEX is taking the opportunity to fine tune the process. In examining individual protocols, Promo-LEX did find minor inconsistencies in 390 of the country’s protocols, as follows: Chişinău 76, Bălţi 13, Basarabeasca 4, Briceni 8, Cantemir 11, Călăraşi 10, Cimişlia 7, Criuleni 9, Donduşeni 7, Drochia 1, Dubăsari 3, Edineţ 15, Făleşti 19, Floreşti 14, Hînceşti 11, Ialoveni 15, Leova 10, Nisporeni 6, Ocniţa 4, Orhei 1, Rezina 15, Rîşcani 11, Sîngerei 11, Soroca 21, Străşeni 1, Şoldăneşti 7, Ştefan Vodă 9, Taraclia 6, Teleneşti 8, Ungheni 21, UTA Găgăuzia 8. Yet, these inconsistencies were not large enough to shift the final domestic outcome. While some of the discrepancies may have resulted from deficiencies in the process of copying the protocols, Promo-LEX found that most of the shortcomings fell into four categories:
- Minor errors in basic arithmetic. Calculations are done manually, making them very susceptible to human error. Sums of individual vote tallies were sometimes off by one or two votes. With 39 competitors listed, each requiring individual tabulation, the risk of a mathematical error was naturally high.
- Confusion on the part of election officials due to unclear wording in the protocols. The protocols included questions meant to check the management of ballots; however, the wording was difficult for a layman to understand and lacked further explanation. Promo-LEX found these errors in the fields calculating the total number of ballots issued and the total number cast, and in those calculating the total number of ballots received by the polling station, but not used.
- Lack of sufficient verification practices. Although representatives of electoral competitors are given the opportunity to review the protocols they appear to lack either the training or the will to exercise this right effectively. At the same time there are no official standardized procedures for correcting errors that are found. It is left to the discretion of individual polling station or DEC officials.
- Access to electoral lists by observers was limited on election day. While observers could periodically check lists, as individual voters signed in to receive their ballots, Promo-LEX observers who requested to analyze the electoral lists in more detail were not all given full access.
Given the above, Promo-LEX recommends that electoral and public authorities:
- Simplify and provide explanation of protocol questions, and include these instructions on the protocol form itself;
- Develop and implement standardized procedures for PEB and DEC officials to correct errors that are identified by logical checks on the protocol;
- Improve logistical arrangements of polling stations to reduce opportunities for human error. For example, polling stations could be equipped with computers and software that would be able to perform mathematical functions and logical checks. Additionally, physical conditions of the polling stations could be improved, to provide sufficient light for workers and heat throughout the day.
- All relevant officials should be made aware of their obligation to provide access to electoral lists, and held accountable by electoral authorities should they fail to do so.
For election day, Promo-LEX conducted a comprehensive observation and PVT by deploying observers to every polling station in the country. Complementing the comprehensive PVT, the Quick Count was based on a representative statistical sample of 299 polling stations. The findings and recommendations of the monitoring mission are made in good faith and aim at improving the quality of the electoral process. This project is implemented with technical and financial assistance from the United States Embassy in Moldova, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). The opinions expressed in the report belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the donors.
Promo-LEX is a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on promoting democratic values and on implementing internationally recognised standards in the Republic of Moldova, including the Transnistrian region. The Promo-LEX team consists of young human rights activists striving for change within Moldovan society, advancing democracy and combating human rights violations in Moldova.
For more information contact Cristina Nicolenco, Promo-LEX press officer: Tel: (22) 211622, GSM: 069882392, e-mail: [email protected]
DOC – PVT