Observation of the Elections for the Assembly of Albania of April 25, 2021
The ballot counting process ended nationwide in the early hours of the morning of April 30, 2021 and the submission of election materials and ballot boxes to the Central Election Commission has already started.
In contrast to the voting process, the counting was accompanied by tensions, delays and interruptions in a considerable part of the ballot counting centers. The administration of the counting did not feature the same level of efficiency and transparency as the voting.
KRIIK noted with concern that, despite the firm stances of the State Election Commissioner, his decisions and the constant calls for uninterrupted continuation of the process by him, but also by election observer organizations such as KRIIK, again in these elections the executive will of the commissioners towards the law and the institutional hierarchy remained secondary, carrying out with unjustifiable delay the conclusion of the counting and the issuance of results by the CEAZs.
Even more worrying remained the fact that the count of preferred votes did not get the right attention. This is not only during the counting process, but as a continuous attitude throughout the construction and development of the electoral process and, especially, during the election campaign.
This element, which would recover to some extent the constitutional provision of the constituent’s more direct connection with the MP, can now be clearly discerned to have been used only as a justification for the unilateral constitutional changes of July 2020 and the October 2020 amendments to the election law that followed. A hasty process, adopted with legal violations and without real public consultation, which already resulted as inefficient in relation to the aspirations of the “possibility of open lists” for the revival and functionality of Albanian democracy.
From the preliminary conclusion of the counting process, it turns out that only three candidates were able to pass the threshold and be re-ranked as a consequence of the preferred voting.
The current public facts brought by KRIK or the media and electoral subjects, which raise doubts on distortion of the will of voters during the counting process through alienation of ballot papers, are extremely worrying, even alarming.
KRIK calls on competent institutions to investigate with maximum seriousness and as quickly as possible all indications concerning this phenomenon and to bring to justice all individuals who have committed electoral crimes.
The extremely high number of invalid ballot papers in this election, which in practice are equivalent to about seven parliamentary seats remains a major problem.
While it remains unclear to what extent this can be attributed to citizens’ lack of information and how much to the potential alienation of votes during the counting process, KRIK calls on the Central Election Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that the reason for this extremely high number of invalid votes is assessed with the highest possible accuracy, effectively using the spaces and instruments that the law envisions, especially in terms of their impact on this electoral process, but also to recommend, follow and develop appropriate measures whether for punishment under the law of those responsible on possible cases of alienation of the will of voters during the count, or to address it as a matter of improvement in the future.
The fact that in EAZ No. 40, where the pilot electronic voting and counting project took place, there are less than 1% invalid votes, is indicative of a truer number of citizens that decided not to choose any of the options on the ballot, although this cannot be ascertained with certainty not being a representative sample.
Meanwhile, remains a responsibility and obligation of electoral subjects to institutionally address all their claims and disputes, regarding the counting process.
Ensuring the integrity of the process and the credibility of all parties and all citizens in this process remains a necessity with the highest and broadest public interest, rather than simply correction or not of results for any given election contestant.
Since election day two complaints have been filed with the CEC complaining about administrative sanctions imposed on the EAZ commissioners by the CEC while no complaints from election contestants have been registered.
KRIK reemphasizes and brings to attention of all electoral subjects that it is essential, not only for this specific electoral process, but also, initiated by the problematic experience of previous processes, as well as for securing the democratic future and institutional approach, to follow the legal and institutional path for all claims and complaints by using and investing the mechanisms and instruments envisaged by law, in respect of the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the entire legal framework.
The election process has not yet been completed. The process of complaints and appeals that comes at this stage of the electoral process is an essential element, which gives the possibility of correcting the distortions or the observed irregularities, through the mechanism of electoral justice.
Electoral Justice Bodies, which were very problematic in the past, must reflect and implement the spirit of the Constitution and the law, also in respect of the aspirations of the Political Agreement of 5 June 2020.
The electoral administration, in relation to this process, must exercise its duties, envisaged by law, with high effectiveness and professionalism.
Likewise, the CEC’s governing body, tasked as the first electoral justice granting link, the Complaints and Sanctions Commission, as well as the Electoral College must execute all complaints submitted in accordance with law and constitutional principles with accountability, seriousness and professionalism.
CSC members must refuse to repeat partisan and politically biased positions. They must be guided by the necessity for ensuring the integrity of the electoral process and the principles that underlie it and avoid discretionary and extralegal decision-making, taking a rational approach to the benefit of rapidly closing the process.
In conclusion, KRIK again calls on political and institutional actors to avoid polarizing the political situation and harsh rhetoric, at least until the full conclusion of the electoral process.
The socialist majority furthermore as the winning political force at this stage of the process, has the great obligation to ensure the calm of public and institutional life by promoting and creating a climate conducive to addressing any concerns, claims or disputes that may come from anyone of the stakeholders, be they election contestants, media, or others.
Institutions should be allowed to develop responsibilities as well as fulfil their functions of law enforcement uninfluenced.
The latest political initiative of the majority, made known in the media, for the impeachment of the President of the Republic, which follows a long institutional clash of nearly 2 years, brings nothing new and extraordinary to the public discussion, despite the artificial polarization of the situation of the situation and the pressure of all institutions involved for the granting of electoral justice, but also of other subjects or actors who want to address their disputes regarding the electoral process.
KRIK positively assesses the circular letter that the Head of the Prosecution, Çela has sent to district prosecutors to intensify the efforts of investigating crimes affecting the vote.
The Head Prosecutor and all Prosecutors are strongly encouraged and supported to pursue with seriousness and dedication all indices and issues affecting the integrity of the vote and all other elements of the electoral process.
Despite the high and direct political sensitivity of the issue and the political responsibilities that may arise, the prosecutors must fulfill their legal obligations and show that they are part of a new mentality and justice, aspired by the Albanian people and supported by all the most important international partners. A Justice who is not afraid or reluctant to press charges and bring to justice anyone who violates the law, violates freedom of vote and intimidates the citizen, regardless of his political, state or social position.
In conclusion, KRIK notifies that it held seven press conferences during the day of voting and the vote counting process, informing in continuity the public and actors interested on the progress of the process, while also publishing the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, on Monday, April 26th.
All of KRIK’s previous statements regarding the process can be found below:
KRIK statements during election day and vote counting process.
(April 25 – 28, 2021)
- Press Conference, Voting Process Progress, April 25, 12:00 p.m.
- Press Conference, Voting Process Progress, April 25, 3:30 p.m.
- Press Conference, Voting Process Progress, April 25, 6:00 p.m.
- Press Conference, Closure of Polling Stations and Handover of Election Materials and Ballot Boxes to VNV, April 25, 11:30 p.m.
- Presentation of the Declaration of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions – Elections for the Assembly of Albania 25 April 2021, April 25, 10:25 p.m.
- Press Conference, Counting Process Progress, April 26, 10:45 p.m.
- Press Conference, Counting Process Progress, April 27, 10:30 p.m.
- Press Conference, Counting Process Progress, April 28, 10:15 p.m.
Tirana, April 30, 2021 !
 CEAZ no. 38, Municipality of Tirana, was the last to finalize the counting at 6:30 AM of 30 April.
 Until the publication of this Statement, 66 CEAZs have already delivered the electoral materials to the CEC.
 Members of the CEAZ no. 35, with object “Overturn of the Decision no. 316, dated 26.04.2021 of the State Commissioner for Elections” and members of the CEAZ no. 22, with object “Overturn of the Decision no. 309, dated 26.04.2021 of the State Commissioner for Elections.