Thousands may not be able to vote in Macedonia's elections


Experts suggest that citizens be given a chance to obtain relevant documents before next year's, local elections.

By Goran Trajkov for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 26/10/12


About 70,000 voters in Macedonia without biometric documents may not vote in the upcoming 2013 elections. [Reuters]

It is estimated that more than 70,000 voters in Macedonia, and 33,000 voters of the Macedonian diaspora, will not be able to exercise their voting right in the upcoming elections because they failed to obtain the new biometric documents. Citizens were legally required to obtain the new documents by February 2012, but many failed to do so.

The number of citizens currently without biometric documents is 145,000, but authorities hope to reduce the number to 70,000 by monthly issuing new biometric documents in time for the elections in 2013.

The working group responsible for the cleanup of the voters' lists is faced with the dilemma -- whether to remove these citizens from the voters' lists or not.

Experts think the citizens should be allowed to obtain the relevant documents before the 2013 elections, but if they do not, they should be deleted from the voters' list.

"Because some 145,000 citizens failed to obtain the new biometric personal documents, the state is forced to inform these citizens, if they do not fulfill this obligation by due date, they will be erased from the voters' lists," Zlatko Dimitrioski, research analyst at the citizen's association MOST, told SETimes.

"This does not mean that they will lose their right to vote, only the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in the next elections or on any other elections in the future, until they obtain new documents," Dimitiroski said.

"Party representatives stated that according to the electoral code, these persons [without biometric documents] cannot be on the voters' lists. Article 43, Paragraph 1 of the code stipulates the ministry of interior to demand certain data on the voters' lists," Biljana Jovanovska, State Election Commission (SEC) spokeswoman, told SETimes.

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"We need brand new voters' lists. Biometric documents are a good basis for its preparation, which can go very quickly. In a separate list we should mention the diaspora," Jani Makraduli, Social Democratic Union representative, said in a recent interview with Macedonian daily Dnevnik.

According to Makraduli, voters without biometric documents should be deleted from the voters' lists, so the lists correspond with the number of biometric identity documents.

Data on the voters' lists was updated on January 31st 2010. In March, the right to use an e-polling list from the justice ministry was transferred to the SEC.

Voting sites have a tab-polling list; its activation opens a webpage with instructions to use personal data to check whether she/he is on the voters' lists.

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