Ahead of this weekend’s runoff election between incumbent President Dodon and Maia Sandu, Promo-LEX published its final report on the conduct of the first round of the presidential election in Moldova. Promo-LEX’s parallel vote tabulation and analysis of almost all Vote Counting Protocols across Moldova do not show any significant discrepancies with the official data reported by the Central Election Commission. However, Promo-LEX expresses its concern over the increasing number of voters who voted at home. Cases of intimidation of citizen observers and obstruction of observation were also particularly concerning. Promo-LEX also reports that the majority of instances of bussing of voters were recorded in Transnistria, which is an alarming trend.
In its election day report, Promo-LEX expresses concern regarding at least 10 cases in which observers were intimidated or free observation of the election process was obstructed. Promo-LEX also raised alarm over a case where 200 unused ballot papers were found to be missing, which may affect the credibility of the electoral process at the affected polling station number 29/20 Soroca, Căinarii Vechi.
During the first round of the presidential election, observers found that 74% of the 50 recorded cases of bussing of voters were reported in polling stations in Transnistria. Other reported violations were the violation of the secrecy of the vote including 59 cases where voters took photos of filled in ballots, 35 cases of malfunctioning of the electronic voter list system called “Elections” SAIS, and 29 other errors in voter lists. The configuration of incident types in this election is similar to those recorded during the last national election, which was the parliamentary election of 24 February 2019.
On the election day, Promo-LEX warned authorities and other stakeholders about cases of electioneering (14) and rumors, attempts or even instances of in-kind or cash rewards offered to voters (14).
Failure to observe COVID-19 protection and prevention measures was the most frequently reported type of incident on E-Day (75 cases). In this context, Promo-LEX believes that for the second round of the election it would be appropriate to add more voting booths in polling stations to manage the flow of voters more efficiently, especially in those polling stations with more voters.
Considering the ongoing pandemic and current cold season, Promo-LEX also draws attention to the fact that about half (43%) of all polling stations monitored do not have heating, which could affect the health of electoral officials and of other persons involved in the organisation and conduct of elections. At the same time, Promo-LEX found that about 265 (38%) of polling stations are not accessible for persons with physical impairments.
With regards to the vote counting process, Promo-LEX observers reported that in at least 186 polling stations (24%) electoral officials ignored the rule that ballot papers must be presented by one single election official to all participants in the counting process.
Promo-LEX analysed the accuracy of 2,135 Vote Counting Protocols out of a total of 2,143 protocols drafted and found that 27 of these were with errors. The number of protocols with errors increased insignificantly if compared to the general local elections of 2019 but is lower if compared to the presidential election of 2016 and parliamentary election of 2019.
The result of the vote tabulation carried out by Promo-LEX on the basis of protocols collected from constituency councils, does not show any significant differences compared to the final data announced by the Central Electoral Commission. However, Promo-LEX expresses its concern over the increasing number of voters who voted at home via mobile ballot boxes in the Republic of Moldova.