IBNA Analysis/Socialist MP, Taulant Balla, joint chairman of the Committee for the Electoral Reform in Albania, talks about the developments ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections
Tirana, 12 October 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Joint chairman of the Committee for the Electoral Reform, Taulant Balla, who is also a socialist MP, says that the process of electronic voting and electronic ballot counting is a mission impossible.
Mr. Balla says that such process will not be part of the upcoming elections. He also points out a traditional fact for the country, by saying that the loser will contest the electronic ballot counting and will request a manual counting.
The request for biometric identification of voters and for electronic voting and ballot counting has been mentioned quite often in the past three years by the right wing opposition and mainly by its leader, Lulzim Basha.
Taulant Balla says that this incentive is unacceptable for several reasons. Among these reasons, he mentions time: “The time remaining until the elections cannot guarantee such a large investment, which would require such an advance technology as far as biometric identification is concerned, because in 5 thousand polling stations that Albania has, we would need to have installed an advanced IT system for biometric identification. Then, we would need electronic ballot counting equipment in 80 ballot counting centers”.
In fact, the “dream” for electronic voting also belonged to former PM Sali Berisha. He even ordered electronic electoral lists in a city and electronic voting in another for the 2013 elections. This process failed.
Mr. Balla recalls this fact, saying that this failure may be reproduced again. “Money was spent from the state budget for a pilot project in Fier, for the part of electronic counting. This process failed! That money was wasted and it is very important to understand that in other countries too, this process has process has not gone as it should.”
“The failure of the pilot project in Fier in 2013, makes us aware of the fact that we cannot make this a national project, because the failure of national elections due to the biometric infrastructure would be fatal. Without testing it and without a pilot project, this process cannot be a national process overnight in 5 thousand polling centers and 80 counting centers”.
However, Mr. Balla admits that electronics is the best way to avoid any frauds and to guarantee accuracy, but he adds that “if such process were to take place, first we need to go through a test and this is why we insist on the necessity that this issue must be implemented on time”.
But even if this process were possible, to what extent it would be accepted by the losing side?
It is a fact that parties in Albania almost never accept the result. The author of this article recalls all the electoral processes in the past 25 years and says that the 2005 and 2013 elections were the only ones not to be contested by the losers and these were the only cases when the leaders that lost, resigned.
Balla too is skeptic about the political culture of accepting the election result: “It goes without saying that even if electronic voting is introduced, the losing side would contest the process. Thus, even if we spend all this money, we would have to hire ballot counters again”. /balkaneu.com/