Too many examples of playing dirty

Zagreb, 19.05.2013 - U Hrvatskoj su jutros u 7 sati otvorena birališta na kojima nešto više od 3, 7 milijuna biraèa bira lokalne dužnosnike za iduæe èetiri godine. Na slici pripreme za otvaranje glasaèkih mjesta. foto FaH/ Damir SENÈAR /ds

Election Day passed in light of persuasion and pressure on citizens to vote for specific candidates, despite the legal ban on violations of electoral silence. 

In smaller towns pressures were highly evident, with participation of political parties’ activists and candidates, and sometimes committee members of certain political parties. Numerous reports from GONG’s observers and citizens referred to insufficient professionalism of election committees, misconduct of candidates, violations of electoral silence and collecting signatures for a referendum inappropriately close to polling stations.
With regard to citizens’ reports of attempts to purchase votes:

– in Metković the police confirmed they are in possession of such information and will conduct inquiries,
– in Slavonski Brod a citizen who informed GONG of vote purchase decided not to file a report to the authorities,
– in Vir, after inquiry, the President of the local Electoral Commission determined that a one-time donation was given to an older lady who was collecting empty bottles from a garbage bin.

Numerous reports of irregularities referred to the professionalism of election committees:

– members of the election committee instructed voters who to vote for (Ðakovo, Voćin, Split, Poličnik) or hadn’t distributed all of the voting papers to voters (Zagreb – Vrbani)
– candidates were freely standing in front of polling stations (Voćin, Otok near Vinkovci, Funtana, Unešić, Sućuraj, Škabrnja, Zagreb – Poljanice, Sveta Klara)
– secrecy of voting was not properly insured (Trpinja, Mikleuš, Sveti Petar u Šumi, Slavonski Brod, Trogir, Velika Gorica, Dubrava – Čulinec, Cernik, Banićevac, Varaždin);
– polling station was not properly arranged (Slavonski Kobaš, Velika Gorica – Gradići);
– voters were provided with pencils instead of pens (after 6PM in Zadar);
– voting from home was not made possible (Ðakovo);
– few voters reported they were already marked as “voted” on the voters list when they came to the polling station to pass their vote (Split, Vukovar).

Citizens were reporting inappropriate behaviour of almost all political parties, independent lists and individual candidates, who were inviting them to vote for a particular candidate:

– candidates and parties were phoning voters, even coming to their home address and offering transportation to polling stations (Zagreb – Špansko, Zagreb, Požega, Gračac, Gornji Bogićevići, Udbina Vrhovine – Rudopolje, Zagreb, Vrlika, Trilj, Otok);
– intimidation of a voter – beneficiary of center for house assistance (Veliki Grđevac).

At the same time, citizens were complaining about the referendum initiative signature collection being too close to polling stations (Kaštelir borough-Labinci, Banjole, Vinkuran, Špansko, Sopot, Vrbani, Velika Gorica, Pula).

The most numerous complaints concerning the violation of election silence: handing out leaflets and pasting posters (Batina, Ugljan, Velika Gorica, Rovinj, Vukovar, Zagreb, Bol, Dubrovnik, Zaprešić), sending text messages (Ðakovo, Split, Zagreb, Mlini , Novska, Petrinja, Istra, Zagreb, Osijek, Ladimirevci, Našice, Split, Bol, Pula) and e-mails (Split, Zagreb, Velika Gorica), phone calls (Pregrada, Vrbovec, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Split, Zadar, Zagreb) and promotion through the local media (Vukovar), Facebook and during Mass (Rudine).

GONG observed the Election Day with the help of 66 trained observers deployed in 33 mobile teams, visiting specific “most critical” polling stations until the vote count. At the same time, non-anonymous citizens reported their remarks to GONG via email, phone and Facebook. Ultimately, the organization and conduct of elections are responsibility of the State Election Commission and relevant municipal, city and county election commissions.