Macedonia Starts Cleaning up Electoral Roll

Three separate IT teams are to cross-reference Macedonian voters' data in order to purge the much problematized electoral roll ahead of the early general elections.
Skopje | Photo by: AP/Boris Grdanoski

Following the decision of the ruling parties to push on with elections in April 24, and amid concern that the opposition may boycott the polls, three separate teams comprised of IT experts are to cross-check the data to determine who is alive and in the country and so eligible to vote.

“Two teams are to be engaged of competent local IT companies, and one of international companies,” the head of the election commission, the DIK, Aleksandar Cicakovski, said.

The data on voters will be taken from various institutional registers, starting from the Central Bank, the Health Fund, the Employment Agency, the Cadastre Agency, the Public Revenue office and others.

The opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, however, said the measures may not be enough and wants “an additional thorough field check of voters… from door to door”.

The conduct of field checks, it says, will to a large extent determine whether the party will take part in the polls or boycott them.

Last Monday, in the absence of opposition MPs, the ruling majority in parliament verified the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, voted to dissolve parliament and elected a new provisional government, paving the way for elections on April 24.

The opposition has threatened to boycott the polls unless the electoral roll is checked properly for fake voters and unless media freedom is ensured.

Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev insists that most reforms agreed in the agreement brokered by the EU to end Macedonia’s political crisis have not been fully implemented or have only formally been addressed, although the deadlines for doing so have long passed.

Currently, the electoral roll contains more than 1.8 million voters. The OSCE, which has monitored Macedonian elections in the past, has described it as unusually large for a country of just over 2 million people.

The opposition says the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which has won nine consecutive elections since 2006 – parliamentary, presidential and local – has an interest in concealing fictive or deceased voters on the electoral roll.

The ruling party has denied that non-existent votes are kept on the roll and used to tip election results in the government’s favour.

The political crisis in Macedonia escalated last February, when the opposition started releasing batches of covertly recorded tapes, which it said showed that Gruevski was behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers.

The opposition insists that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many senior officials, including proof of high-level corruption, the government grip’s on the judiciary, prosecution, businesses and media, politically-motivated arrests and jailings, electoral violations and even an attempted cover-up of a murder of a man by a police officer.

Gruevski, who has held power since 2006, says the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise the country.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic