NGO warns epidemic could affect right to vote, urges legislative changes

Ljubljana – The Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy has called on Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik to draft changes to electoral legislation to ensure that those who may be in quarantine or self-isolate due to Covid-19 or fall ill with it during elections could still cast their vote.

The NGO highlights in Wednesday’s release the health minister’s statement that due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, as many as a quarter of the country’s population could be ill with Covid or sent into quarantine at one point.

“There is no information available that adjustments of and changes to the election rules are planned to enable these voters to go to the polls,” the press release reads.

It says Slovenia has entered the super-election year when voters will go to the polls three times – for general, presidential and local elections.

The National Assembly election act enables voting by mail to those who have been unexpectedly deprived of freedom or admitted to hospital and care facility if they notify a local electoral commission of the development five days before the election day.

However, the NGO says the law is not adjusted to the situation the country is witnessing today, when a voter can find themselves quarantining, self-isolating or ill, and can thus not go to the polls.

“If in the days prior to the election there are several thousand daily coronavirus cases, the voting right of more than 10,000 voters will be thwarted.”

The NGO is aware this is a demanding topic, but cites good practice from the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Israel, where elections have been successfully adjusted to the Covid situation to enabled all voters to vote.

“In order to preserve the democratic process of electing the people’s representatives, and consequently the government, there should be absolutely no doubt about whether election has been executed correctly.”