KRIIK evaluates the control mechanism through monitors as very important. Despite the problems observed in the functioning of this mechanism so far, it remains a link in the process that should be further strengthened through legal amendments.
In the current conditions, there is a need for this mechanism to be improved under the existing legal framework, in order to maximize the benefits from the field work of the monitors through the implementation and fulfillment of the legal obligations as fully as possible, which can also serve as the first monitoring link, on which the entire pyramid of control by the CEC is based.
This control mechanism, as currently provided in the law, is judged by KRIIK to be very important, not only during the pre-election period, in order to increase transparency for voters, but also after it, since the findings of the monitors can also serve as information addition to the CEC for the evidence of the accuracy of the financial reporting of the campaign by the electoral subjects themselves.
Evaluating again the CEC’s practice regarding the preliminary consultation of the by-laws with interested actors, please find below some recommendations of the KRIIK regarding the draft-instruction “On determining the criteria for the selection of election monitors and their appointment procedure.”
Regarding the procedure for appointing monitors:
1.1. KRIIK assesses that the mechanism of written testing of monitors, in order to guarantee the quality of their findings, is necessary (as it was foreseen in Instruction No. 1 dated 02.02.2021 of the State Election Commissioner).
KRIIK brings to attention that the findings of the monitors may constitute the initial indication of a possible violation, which may lead to the sanctioning of an electoral entity. Consequently, the CEC must have the highest possible guarantees that their knowledge is of the required level.
In addition, the monitors are certified by the CEC, so for a more solid certification, the process should include, in addition to training and experience, testing of knowledge and mastery of the content of the reporting formats.
Regarding the object of work and monitoring modalities by monitors:
2.1. The legal basis defined for the work of the monitors is Part VII, Chapter I of the Electoral Code, which contains provisions related to the Financing of Elections, as well as other by-laws.
Despite the fact that the inclusion of the phrase “other by-laws” is assumed to be comprehensive, in the judgment of KRIIK it must be specified which are the other by-laws on which the work of the monitors will be based, or at least the main acts on which it will be developed a good part of fulfilling the mission of the monitors, as is the decision no. 9 dated 24.12.2020 of the CEC Regulatory Commission, or other acts
2.2. The obligation for a summary report of the daily work of each monitor in the field
Despite the fact that with a review of the relevant report the CEC can obtain general information regarding the activity of the monitors, this should become an obligation for the monitors, establishing, but not limiting, the points on which their daily work should be based.
Through this mechanism, we believe that not only the responsibility of the monitors will increase to fulfill their task as best as possible, but also the CEC will have the opportunity to control the work and efforts made by them.
This will enable the work of the monitors to not be limited simply and only to the completion of reports, without being able to judge whether the reported content is the actual monitored situation or the will of the monitor to report or not on a certain aspect of the monitoring. We also point out that evasiveness in reporting was one of the shortcomings of the content of the reports made by the monitors in the past elections.
In addition to the above, it is judged that this element encourages the monitors for a more proactive approach in the monitoring they have to perform, and especially in the demands for transparency and accountability towards the electoral subjects, making the latter aware of the obligation to respect the implementation of the law.
2.3. Taking into consideration the displacement and carrying out of the electoral campaign more and more in the media, it is judged that the monitoring of the media, social media and the local press, are elements that should be foreseen in a more complete manner in the monitoring modalities of the monitors. The above implies detailing which media the monitors have an obligation to monitor, emphasizing in particular social media, which are one of the main communication channels. On the other hand, taking into consideration the limitations of AMA for continuous monitoring of local media, this mechanism will help to discipline them a little and bring them into compliance with the legal regulatory framework.
In addition, the instruction will have to determine that media monitoring is used both for institutional activities and for electoral activities of electoral subjects. This is for two reasons:
- The participation of civil servants or public officials in electoral events is subject to legal restrictions, which means that the monitoring of these events can evidence the use of human resources of the administration (state resources).
- Monitoring the events of the electoral subjects is one of the duties of the monitors, and not monitoring the media, especially the social ones, for this purpose eliminates an essential source of information for their work.