|[With EMBs] Interview with Central Election Commission of Albania|
|Last updated 2021-09-07|
Use of Technology in the Election Process (Central Election Commission of Albania)
The 11th parliamentary elections were held on 25 April 2021. This year, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Albania introduced new technology to its election processes and management, such as an electronic voter identification system, electronic voting and counting, and a mobile application. Also, COVID-19 preventative measures were prepared and shared with voters to ensure they can “safely participate in polls and make informed choices” while minimizing the spread of the virus. The A-WEB Secretariat conducted a special interview with the CEC of Albania as follows:
▶Question: Which election(s) were held in 2021 in Albania?
▶Answer: The Republic of Albania held parliamentary elections on 25 April 2021.
Prior to election day, on 5 October 2020, the Assembly of Albania approved, by a qualified majority, the amendments to The Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania. Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected every four years through a regional proportional system. 12 multi-seat electoral districts/zones, which correspond to administrative regions, elect the 140 MPs: the number of seats allocated for each district depends on the number of citizens registered in the respective district. The newly introduced preferential voting within party lists allows voters to potentially influence the ranking of candidates on the list.
CEC registered 12 electoral subjects competing nationwide and 5 independent candidates contesting in 5 districts. Candidacies were verified by CEC in line with the Electoral Code and the Law on Decriminalization. Candidates' self-declaration forms were published on the official website of the Central Election Commission.
▶Question: How did COVID-19 change the election process and election management?
▶Answer: Prior to the election, the State Election Commissioner approved Instruction No. 11, dated 24 April 2021, on the implementation of anti-COVID-19 measures on election day. A special instruction regarding the anti-COVID-19 measures in compliance with the protocol of the Ministry of Health was approved by the State Election Commissioner. It was addressed to members of election commissions, members of voting centers, operators of the electronic identification devices, and observers. All election officials and operators appointed by CEC were required to declare that they had no fever or other health concerns related to the symptoms of COVID-19 by submitting the self-declaration form, which was submitted upon their arrival at the office. This form was also completed by party and non-party observers who monitored the election process. Also, thanks to a well-organized education program addressing voters, posters with information on the anti-COVID-19 measures were distributed and placed in public places, including the Voting Center (VC) premises. Related videos were shared with the public via both social media platforms and national television. Voters were aware of the need to respect social distancing measures and wear masks in the majority of voting centers.
In the 2021 elections, the CEC mobile application served as a communication platform between commissioners and CEC throughout the country. Through the application, the commissioners reported on the progress of the voting process, voter turnout, and other issues. This helped CEC to have information and control over the progress of the voting process but also to inform the public in real time, which was especially important during this time of the pandemic.
In this election, an electronic voter identification system was introduced for the first time to mitigate the risk of double voting and voter impersonation. All the voting centers were equipped with a special device to help identify the voter and scan a fingerprint. CEC assigned and trained a technical operator to every voting center to facilitate voter identification. Electronic voting and counting were also piloted for the first time in Albania in municipal unit no. 10, which included 32 VCs with two electronic voting and counting machines for each VC. There was a demonstration and testing of the voting equipment to enable users to be familiarized with electronic voting and informed on the technical and operational aspects of the device. The electronic voting and counting devices offered the results in a short time. Both technologies were implemented successfully by CEC.
▶Question: Do you have any upcoming election(s) and plans for of actions or future changes to election management you wish to share with A-WEB and Member EMBs?
▶Answer: The 2020 legal amendments changed the formation rules of CEC and introduced three steering bodies in its structure: The State Election Commissioner (the Commissioner) holds broad executive authority. It steers the administration and represents CEC in relations with third parties, whereas the State Election Deputy Commissioner (the Deputy Commissioner) supervises the voter identification technology, recruitment, and training of election officials. The Regulatory Commission (the Regulator) adopts normative sub-legal acts as prescribed by the Electoral Code. The Complaints and Sanctions Commission (CSC) examines complaints against decisions of the Commissioner and the Electoral Administration Zones (CEAZs), decides on the invalidity of voting and election results, and can impose sanctions for violations of the Electoral Code upon the Commissioner’s request. All CEC members were elected by the Parliament, and the Regulator and the CSC have five members each.
The upcoming elections belong to the elections of local government bodies to be organized in 2023. There will be a General Assessment related to the use of technology in these elections. Based on that assessment, the CEC of Albania will undertake the next steps for the use of the technology (electronic voting and counting) nationwide, including the upcoming elections.
Video 1: Electronic voter identification is implemented for the first time in Albania on 25 April, 2021
The A-WEB Secretariat appreciates the Central Election Commission of Albania for sharing the special measures they have taken under the pandemic situation. The Secretariat will continue to conduct these interviews so that A-WEB members may share what they have introduced to cope with the pandemic in election management.