Tupperware containers and Bosnia's election procedures

Election authorities in BiH tried to sell the see-through ballot boxes as a major improvement on the voting process. But it’s 2018, so nobody took it seriously.  

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Tupperware containers and Bosnia's election procedures - NewsMavens
Central Election Commission of BiH press release

Why this story matters:

The “yolks” of Kinder surprise eggs have long been a part of Bosnia’s electoral system. The tiny plastic capsules were used again this year to determine the order of political subjects on the voting ballot, after the “randomizing” software broke down in the middle of the process.   But the star of this year’s elections is a different piece of plastic: a transparent container, hailed by Irena Hadžiabdić, the president of the Central Election Commission, as something that’s going to increase trust in the electoral process.

The tupperware-like bucket is supposedly “a big step towards more transparent elections”, as opposed to the previously used metal boxes “which are heavy, worn out and unpractical for transport and use”.

The 10,000 transparent boxes were donated by the OSCE mission to Bosnia, with the US, UK and Norwegian embassies pitching in. Their representatives handed the new boxes to the CEC at an official "box-delivering ceremony" last week in Sarajevo. None of them explained by which sorcery the boxes are supposed to strengthen confidence in the voting proces -- but they certainly acted like they were handling a magical item.

The news and the image of ambassadors and CEC president laying their hands on a plastic container as if were a sacred object was a smash hit on Facebook and Twitter. Some users were pointing to cheaper options in container stores; other suggested a better use for the boxes -- to pickle cabbage after the elections. But most just expressed disbelief with the fact that someone thought it's a good idea to present a plastic box as a significant improvement of the electoral process in the year 2018.

Details from the story:

  • Other than the obvious ridiculousness of the whole story, the “transparent box” noise would probably have been less loud had it not come after months of discussion about making real improvements in Bosnia's election technology.
  • The proposed amandments to the election law would have introduced biometric fingerprints as identifiers, optical scans of voting ballots, and video surveillance at the polls, adjusted to protect the privacy of voting.
  • The draft has passed the House of Representatives in the state Parliament in March, but the House of Peoples voted against it in June, after the CEC gave an essentially negative opinion on the proposal.
  • In the opinion sent to the Parliament in April, the Commission pointed out the cost, logistics and shortness of time in which to implement the new system for the October elections, but also stressed that it’s waiting for an official strategy and action plan for introducing new technologies in the election process.
  • Shortly after, the CEC announced the first “improvement” in this year's elections, almost as fascinating as the plastic containers -- pens in different colors. “Voting ballots will be filled out only with blue pens, while the election committees will use red pens to work with the ballots”, Hadžiabdagić said in May.  
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