Poland’s voting system set for big changes before next election

In order to increase participation and transparency, the proposed bill increases the number of polling stations and changes the way votes are counted

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: RMF FM
via: onet.pl

Poland’s election system will undergo some major changes, including adding more polling stations, introducing a new way of counting votes, and adding video surveillance to the counting procedure, according to a new planned parliamentary bill project by Law and Justice (PiS).

Polish commercial radio RMF FM now reports that it will soon go before parliament in order for the new law to enter into force before next year’s elections.

PiS’ voting reform includes big changes in the method of counting votes. Until now, members of the polling commissions counted votes by splitting into smaller groups. After the new law is passed, the head of the commission would be obliged to show every paper ballot to all members of the commission and say which politician received the vote. All members would decide if the vote is valid or not.

The next change has to do with how the voting process is surveilled and monitored. Back in 2018, the parliament approved voting law changes that introduced cameras to polling stations. However, the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection decided that this violates the EU General Data Protection Regulation directive and MPs removed this change.

Now, it is proposed that video recording will only take place during the counting of the votes after the polling station is closed. Video materials will serve as proof when there are disputes over an election result. It is not known how long this data would be stored.

The PiS leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, talked about the need to make changes to the rules of elections during his public gatherings around the country. One of his ideas was the increase in the number of polling stations, so that people living in the smallest villages would not have a problem reaching the voting booth.

Kaczynski’s concerns about voter participation and a lack of polling places was included in the parliamentary bill project. Currently, the law requires the voting district to cover from 4,000 inhabitants to 500,000 but the PiS reforms will decrease the lower limit.

The project will enter the parliament in the next two weeks, most likely before the sitting that takes place on Nov. 30. The changes to the electoral law must pass six months before the elections at the latest, with the next national elections set to take place in April 2023.

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