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Delays with state budget may put at risk EP elections in Latvia

Arnis Cimdars/flickr.com/Foreign Affairs Ministry
Delays with approval of the country’s state budget could put at risk residents’ ability to vote in upcoming European Parliament elections at any election site, Diena reports with reference to concerns voiced by Central Election Commission’s chairman Arnis Cimdars.

Previously EP election was carried out in accordance with each election site’s registry of voters. However, last year Saeima deputies voted in favour of amendments to the EP election law, offering wider opportunities for voters to participate in elections and thereby giving green light to the development of the election system. Supported amendments allow residents to vote three days early in EP elections at any election site. To ensure this, it is necessary to secure the option to record early arrival of a voting resident online and upload information to the registry so that the election site at which the resident is registered knows the resident has voted.
 

By successfully implementing this data exchange solution it will be possible to use it for Saeima and municipal elections, allowing residents to vote using with an ID card, Diena reports.
 

It is mentioned in the annotation of CEC legislative draft that implementation of an online registry would cost the state budget EUR 300,000. However, because of delays with 2019 budget approval, CEC chairman Cimdars may be forced to ‘ring the alarm’ if no clarity is provided soon, the newspaper writes.
 

According to Cimdars, there is a possibility for a critical moment to arrive for the aforementioned election system’s development plans. «If no clear explanation on the data exchange system arrives before January’s second to last week, we will have to consider turning back,» Cimdars told Diena. According to him, in this case the parliament will have to decide quickly if the project should be put on an indefinite hold.
 

13th Saeima deputies have already supported amendments to the Election Registry Law and Election Commission Law. «With these decisions from the Saeima there is legislative foundation. This may mean the Saeima has conceptual support for expansion of election opportunities. With that, there are reasons to feel optimistic for allocation of funding,» said Cimdars.
 

Sergejs Dolgopolovs, head of Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee, knows of these concerns but believes the situation is not critical. «I would hit the alarm if I was the head of CEC and if I had concerns about insufficient financing for promotion of elections and improvement of the system. However, we have to conclude that CEC budget is considerable even in years with no elections. There is room to manoeuvrer and save money to afford such perspective projects.»

BNN/LETA

11-01-2019
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