On 22 July 2005, the Moldovan Parliament approved a number of changes to the Electoral Code that partly address some of the mentioned recommendations, and others that stem from national political debates or technical suggestions of the CEC. Of particular significance is the reduction of the threshold for participating in the allocation of parliamentary seats, and provisions setting forth a new formula for CEC and lower level election commissions’ composition. However, a significant number of recommendations have not yet been addressed and several newly adopted provisions raise concerns:
Distinction among the CEC members in Article 17.3: The Code should make clear that it is the full commission that holds the decision-making power.
Dismissal of CEC members for “serious violations”: The Code should specify the body in charge of the investigation guarantee, the rights of defence of the charged CEC member, and include some possibility to appeal.
Representation: Consideration could be paid to electoral systems meeting the distinct objectives of ensuring further consolidation of the political system and permitting an adequate participation in public life of national minorities and mainstream interests at regional level, as described in the OSCE-ODIHR Guidelines to Assist National Minority Participation in the Electoral Process.
Voting rights: The infinite cancellation of voting rights for people sentenced to imprisonment, regardless of the seriousness of the offence, is not acceptable. Article 13.1.c should be brought in line with one recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights on this issue. In addition, the combined formulations of art.11 and art.13.1.a appear to be dysfunctional and should be reviewed.
Special categories of voters: The Electoral Code should make sure special categories of voters, including students, military personnel, and persons in hospitals or institutions, can effectively exercise their right to vote at all elections.
Cancellation of candidate registration: Proceedings on cases of violations of the law that can lead to the revocation of a candidacy should abide by the principle of presumption of innocence. In addition, it should be made clear that these rules should not lead to the cancellation of the mandate of an elected candidate. As regards the validity of petitions in support of a candidate, the rules should not permit the disqualification of valid signatures because others have not been considered authentic, or because some names were entered prior to the official start of the nomination period”.
Right to campaign, right to free speech and expression: Limitations to the right to campaign set forth in Art. 47 should be brought in line with international instruments and domestic constitutional law. Prohibition of “unethical” campaigning and provisions of Art. 60 which imposes legal liability on a person who “infringes the honour and dignity of a candidate”, also appear to be too broad and could be applied in a manner that would violate a person’s right to free speech and expression. Restrictions to these rights must be specific and follow the principle of proportionality.
Size of polling stations: The size of polling stations should be reduced as stated in previous recommendations, and voters waiting in line outside polling stations at the time of polling station closing should be allowed to vote.
Stamping of ballot papers after it is marked by the voter: Provisions in art.54 and 48 create a serious risk of breaches of the secrecy of the vote. The procedure should be amended so that once the voter has collected his/her ballot paper, no one else would be allowed to touch it, in line with § 34 and 35 of the Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice.
Publication of polling stations’ results: The code (art.58) should clearly foresee that a copy of the results protocol of each polling station is kept at DEC level. This would add transparency to the process. More importantly, the code should create an obligation for the CEC to provide detailed election results, by polling stations, available on its website as soon as they have been processed in the DECs.
Complaints and appeals: As stated previously, the Electoral Code should clearly define the powers and responsibilities of the various bodies responsible for the review of complaints and appeals, to avoid conflicts of jurisdiction, and should not grant the appellants or the authorities the right to choose the appeal body.
Invalidation of elections: Turnout criteria for valid elections have remained in article 136. As shown in the last municipal elections in Chi?in?u, such criteria may lead to endless cycles of failed elections. Consideration should be given to remove turnout requirements.
Accreditation of Observers: The Electoral Code should establish clear rules, including criteria and deadlines, for the submission, examination and adjudication on requests for international and domestic observer accreditations.