Articolul in română este aici și conține câteva referințe în plus pentru vorbitorii de limba română.
The election process in Romania may seem a little weird if you live in a country where democracy works. People are allowed to vote in any election section around the country. They only have to sign a paper where they state they haven't voted in that day, and get a little sticker attached to their identification card.
But if you want, it's really easy to fraud the elections. You just remove the sticker, go to another polling section, and sign the paper again. Given the secrecy around those papers (called supplementary lists) and the fact that few people get convicted for this type of infraction, poor people are persuaded by parties to go and vote multiple times for different amounts of money.
This year, the people from The House of Journalists went as independent observers to Colonesti in the first round of voting. They were cursed by the mayor, but "surprisingly" the presence dropped to 79%. After their "success", I compiled statistically the voting locations in Valcea (my county), ranked by the percent of people who voted on supplementary lists.
Village/City Total Votes Supplementary List Votes/Votes (Percentage)
----------------------- --------------- -----------------------------------------------------------
ORAŞ BĂILE OLĂNEŞTI 3248 32.3276
LĂDEŞTI 1142 27.6708
ORAŞ BĂILE GOVORA 2082 27.4736
MĂCIUCA 1161 27.3902
ORAŞ CĂLIMĂNEŞTI 5131 27.3436
MILCOIU 688 24.4186
TITEŞTI 521 24.3762
GHIOROIU 816 23.652
CÎINENI 1117 21.0385
ZĂTRENI 1114 20.2873
Villages like Lădești, Măciuca or Milcoiu don't have any university and they are really not tourist attractions. Somebody suggested that a lot of people there have their residence in another village so that is why they appear in the supplementary lists. But it doesn't add up because the national average of voting on those lists is 10.08%, and here we have 3 villages with 27%.
So, I wanted to become an observer in the second round of voting. But, we in Romania have an ambiguous law. I sent a letter to some organisations concerned about democracy and received answers that the elections here are monitored.
Three days later, after pressure from the civil society, the government allowed the registrations of new observers.
And here I am, going tomorrow with 17 other people in Valcea, supervising the elections. The primary reason is not really that I am in favour of one of the candidates, even though the other one has tried to bribe people, has given a "gift" to teachers of 150 euro (the teachers in my faculty refused it) or still has not solved the problem of abroad people voting in elections.
Cătălin Frâncu is a guy that I admire and he has written a lot about the lack of civic attitude in our society. I think he is right and it's vital for us to get involved in the "citadel affairs".
If you want to stay close to the elections, follow this Twitter stream in English, this Facebook hashtag and if I have Internet signal and time I will try to live blog from the polling section.
Update after elections
I won't write a recap after the elections. I've been in several voting sections in Valcea. Saw everything from "electoral tourism" to am ultra-organised polling section, from illiterate people taking bribes to communities of people voting because they believe in a cause.
Update 2: no major frauds can be derived from the results.