The list full of phantoms, political parties remain silent

Return of the phantoms. With this film title, the non-governmental CIVIL recently depicted, unfortunately, the real situation with the Voters’ List, after several citizens reacted that people duly registered with the SEC and the Ministry of the Interior and removed from the list during the parliamentary election in 2016 have returned to the same addresses.

Dual addresses of the same residence, with different tenants, some of which are real, and others are virtual… Diseased people that have appeared and disappeared for years, reappeared in the Voters List once again on the day of voting… All these are the problems that the Voters’ List is constantly facing and who, as the experts say, will come out again on the surface as the referendum on the agreement with Greece, which will be held on September 30, approaches.
In 2016, the unedited list was the reason for the postponement of the December 11 parliamentary election, in the local election last year, no political party has challenged the data in the Voters List for the first time. And now they are silent, after fierce arguments brought changes to the Electoral Code, which, apparently, have not yielded results.
The amended list has been completely in the competence of the SEC for several years, and its accuracy depends on the data provided by the competent institutions, and first in line is the Ministry of Interior. Some say that the current situation is a consequence of the lack of a functioning system with precise procedures and allocated responsibilities, which leaves the possibility of abuse, while others, on the other hand, put the majority of the blame on the account of the SEC’s non-agility.
“This is becoming outrageous. This happens every time before any election process, and now once again before the referendum, and next year in March we have the presidential election,” said former SEC President, Aleksandar Novakovski, who managed this institution until 2011.
According to him,  there used to be a problem with staffing in the SEC, but now it, as he says, has all the conditions to complete the operation of appropriately clearing the list.
“Unlike the time when I was president, now this institution has a service that is at the level of one of the major ministries. Over 100 employees are employed in 34 regional units that were taken over by the Ministry of Justice. Even if they went door to the door to each regional unit they would have had results in there few years. No one else, by law, is responsible for the list, and the institutions whose records help in the process are obliged to cooperate. If there is a problem with one of them, it should be publicly said,” says Novakovski.
In February 2016, the SEC drafted a Rulebook on the methodology for full access, making changes and deleting data in the Voters’ List, as well as a procedure for conducting on-site inspection for updating it, but a number of issues appeared in the implementation of the measures determined by the normative acts, such as also noted in the Transparency report.
In addition to the determined dynamics, the Voters’ List was not properly updated, and the international community supported the opposition’s decision to postpone the scheduled early election until optimal conditions for their maintenance were created. The public remained without an adequate response to the reasons why the crossing of data with the databases of a dozen institutions and the implementation of an on-site inspection were followed did not yield the expected result. The test involving foreign experts also ended with the published names of a total of 39,502 voters who were considered controversial in the Voters’ List and who were supposed to report to the SEC, otherwise they would be deleted from the list. On the other hand, the new list of controversial voters sparked many public reactions because it included a number of public figures who claimed to have voted at the same polling place for twenty years.
“The attempt ended with a total fiasco. They deleted the wrong people, and the ones that we supposed to be deleted remained on the list,” said Novakovski, who forecasted and guessed that this process would end with a political compromise, that is, with the conclusion that “the list is good”.
In 2014, as reported, the number of voters was 1,779,500, in 2016 for the parliamentary election 1,784,524 voters, and last year, 1,814,644 voters for the local election, data which shows growth in the list. Recently, SEC President Oliver Derkovski said the 1.8 million voters were real. Xhabir Deralla from the non-governmental organization Civil disagrees.
According to him, the estimates of relevant experts show that in Macedonia there are no more than 1.6 million inhabitants in total, newborn babies included. “The number of phantoms and deceased in the Voters’ List is not known, and probably can not be known given the poor state of this document. If we find out this figure, we will be halfway to clearing the Voters List,” said Derala, who yesterday accused the SEC of arrogance, as citizens reported irregularities and sent them to the Ministry of Interior.

 59 deceased deleted from the list
About sixty people from the municipalities of Kisela Voda, Studenicani, Sopiste and Zelenikovo will be deleted from the Voters List. As it was reported, these are deceased persons for whom death certificates were issued by the local offices of the Registry for the registry after the start of the public review of the referendum on September 30. Except on the basis of death, names could be erased from the Voters List on the basis of citizenship, but in the first three days of the inspection there was no request for deletion on the basis of citizenship in any of the SEC offices. The regional offices of the SEC regularly receive information from the Ministry of the Interior on the number of persons with invalidated residence in the municipalities. In the four municipalities that cover the regional office of the SEC in Kisela Voda in the past period, according to the data of the Ministry of Interior, there are 650 people with an invalidated residence, but so far none of them have reported this to the office.

Naum Kotevski