Irregularities taint BiH elections

Sunday was election day in Bosnia. And yet again the results could be tainted with many unanswered questions about reported irregularities.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Irregularities taint BiH elections - NewsMavens
Voting in Sarajevo, October 2018, YouTube

Why this story matters:

Numerous irregularities have loomed over BiH's general elections for months despite appeals from civic organizations, and international bodies. Media investigations even uncovered ongoing voter fraud,  but little or nothing was done to rectify anything.

First came the reports of stolen identities, when people discovered that their personal data was used to register them as voters from abroad without their knowledge. In a follow up story, an inexplicably large increase of voters who registered to vote from abroad was uncovered, with the number jumping from 40,000 in 2014, to 77,000 in 2018. Most of these new registrations came from Croatia (24,000) and Serbia (14,700). When journalists from "Žurnal" started investigating the situation in Croatia, they found that the home addresses of Croatian citizens were used to register entirely different people with Bosnian citizenship, possibly with the help of HDZ (ruling party in Croatia, and a "sister party" of HDZ BiH). 

Additionally, numerous reports appeared of people finding their deceased relatives in the voters' register -- a problem that keeps occuring in virtually every election cycle.

The Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the body tasked with assuring fair and free elections, including the "accuracy and integrity of the Central voters' register". But the CEC brushed all these reports aside, stating that their part of the job was done correctly. Any irregularities in the register, the CEC maintains, are a result of other institutions not updating their data on births, deaths, or change of residency.

So, as usual -- it's nobody's fault.

The election day and the morning after

  • The coalition of NGOs which monitors the election, "Pod lupom", reported 399 critical situations during election day claiming that 267 were "solved successfully during Election Day (and night)."
  • They say that citizens reported 215 irregularities, mostly attempts to buy votes and violations of election silence. 
  • As they state in the preliminary report, these were the most common irregularities: "ban on observation of elections (88), voting irregularities (76), violence or threatened observers' safety (17) and, suspicion of fraud of the so-called Bulgarian train type (16)".
  • Additionally, over 150 polls were not open on time, out of which 100 were in Banja Luka alone.
  • Numerous cases of changes in local election commissions the night before the elections were also reported. 
  • The cherry on top came from the town of Tuzla. On Monday, the citizens of Tuzla woke up to boxes and bags filled with voting ballots laying in the streets as they were reportedly being transfered from the polling stations via people's personal vehicles, in a complete breach of procedure. 
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