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News 09 Mar 16

App Fuels Worries About Macedonia Voters' Roll

Electoral Commission insists it will clean up the disputed electoral roll in time for the June elections - after the launch of web app allowing people to check the list added to concerns.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Voting in 2011 | Photo by: BIRN

Members of the State Election Commission, DIK, say the many inconsistencies in the electoral roll spotted by individuals, the media and political parties since the launch of an app last week will be dealt with before the June 5 early elections.

Bedredin Ibrahimi, a member of the DIK, says there is no cause for panic about the timeframe.

“The app was launched for citizens to have an insight and help clean up the electoral roll… there is no need for drama about it. We will finish our job on time," he said.

"The principle is simple, only those [voters] who meet the conditions will stay on the list," Ibrahimi added.

The web app launched by the DIK allows people to check how many voters are listed at their own address and at other addresses.

It has revealed what appear to be widespread inconsistencies on the electoral roll.

Users have reported many cases of dozens of people being listed at same addresses, which are not known to house any of those people.

The discoveries have added to longstanding fear that the voters' roll is full of fictive voters, used in the past to tip election results to the advantage of the government parties.

“One address in Skopje contains 35 voters. Another holds 15 people that are listed as voters in two different polling stations; 35 voters are listed at addresses of public institutions,” the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, said on Tuesday.

The main ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski, which was widely accused in the past of election rigging and whose former ministers are now suspects in an election-rigging case launched by the Special Prosecution, accused the SDSM of seeking an alibi for losing the next election.

“The despair and panic in the SDSM ahead of the elections can be seen from the moon,” the ruling party stated, adding that the opposition cannot make any more excuses “now that it controls the DIK and the Ministry of Interior [now under a minister from opposition ranks]”. The two institutions are directly in charge of the electoral roll.

Meanwhile, the DIK said that the ongoing cross-referencing of data contained in various institutions, in order to filter out fictive voters, is expected to wrap up on Friday.

Afterwards, DIK teams will begin a field check of voters from door to door in order to address outstanding problems – although the scope of this operation is not yet known.

Currently, the electoral roll contains more than 1.8 million voters. The OSCE, which has monitored Macedonian elections in the past, has described it as unusually large for a country of just over 2 million people.

The opposition says the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which has won nine consecutive elections since 2006 - parliamentary, presidential and local - has an interest in concealing fictive or deceased voters on the electoral roll.

The crisis in Macedonia escalated last February, when the opposition started releasing batches of covertly recorded tapes, which it said showed that the VMRO DPMNE-led government was behind the alleged illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers.

The opposition insists that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many senior officials, including proof of high-level corruption, government influence over the judiciary, prosecution, businesses and media, politically-motivated arrests and imprisonments, electoral violations and even an attempted cover-up of a murder of a man by a police officer.

Nikola Gruevski, who has held power as Prime Minister since 2006 until he resigned in January, says the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition in order to destabilise the country.

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