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Serbia

Updating of electoral roll (RS0035)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Policy Areas

E-Government, Money in Politics

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

COMMITMENT 8: Updating of electoral roll
Ongoing - Q2 2019
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
As regards eligibility of Serbian nationals to vote in Serbian
presidential and parliamentary elections while living in foreign
countries, the Ministry of Public Administration and Local SelfGovernment has observed certain issues in practice in
connection with the submission of requests to register with the
single electoral roll as voters who will vote abroad in the
election. The practice used so far has revealed numerous
difficulties with registering, and thus also with the processing,
when requests were submitted by e-mail. This fact was also
highlighted by the Ombudsman, who gave a recommendation to
improve the regulations pertaining to the electoral roll so that the
eligibility to vote would not be limited for Serbian nationals
living abroad.
In addition, since the practice used so far meant that data from
other official records (registry books) which could result in
changes in the electoral roll had to be sent by mail, there was a
possibility that such changes would not be registered in the
electoral roll in due time, which meant that the electoral roll was
not always up to date.
36
Main objective
In order to improve the legislative framework pertaining to the
electoral roll, certain provisions of the Instructions on
Implementation of the Law on Single Electoral Roll have been
improved in order to:
- Ensure normal exercise of the right of Serbian nationals to vote
in a foreign country by specifying a clear procedure for the
submission of requests to register in the single electoral roll the
fact that they will vote abroad in those elections and for deciding
on those requests by competent authorities;
- This, in turn, requires the inclusion of a separate page in the
electoral roll system which would specify the exact
responsibilities of all entities involved in deciding on the
requests, which would ensure legal certainty in the exercise of
this right;
- Ensure electronic linking of the Registry of Deaths with the
single electoral roll to enable timely keeping and updating of the
single electoral roll.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem solving?
Implementation of this commitment will, on the one hand,
ensure easier, more efficient and faster exercise of rights of
Serbian nationals in terms of voting of persons who are not able
to exercise their right to vote in their permanent place of
residence and instead vote in their temporary place of residence
in a foreign country. On the other hand, the introduction of
electronical linking of registers will ensure a legal and regular
procedure for making changes to the electoral roll and for the
passing of decisions, in order to ensure the electoral roll is
accurate, complete and up to date. This would also ensure the
effective exercise of citizens’ rights in this field.
The way in which this commitment
is relevant to further advancing
OGP values
Additional information
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Introduction of a separate page
within the electoral roll system for
Q1 2019 Q2 2019
37
the submission of requests to vote
abroad
2. Establishing an electronic link
between the Registry of Deaths and
the single electoral roll –
development of a web service
Q1 2019 Q2 2019
Contact information
Name of a responsible
person in the
implementing agency
Marina Dražić
Title, Department Assistant Minister, MPALSG, Sector for Registry Books and Registers
Email and phone number marina.drazic@mduls.gov.rs
Other actors involved
Administratio
n
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Updating of electoral roll

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

In order to improve the legislative framework pertaining to the electoral roll, certain provisions of the Instructions on Implementation of the Law on Single Electoral Roll have been improved in order to:

  • Ensure normal exercise of the right of Serbian nationals to vote in a foreign country by specifying a clear procedure for the submission of requests to register in the single electoral roll the fact that they will vote abroad in those elections and for deciding on those requests by competent authorities;
  • This, in turn, requires the inclusion of a separate page in the electoral roll system which would specify the exact responsibilities of all entities involved in deciding on the requests, which would ensure legal certainty in the exercise of this right;
  • Ensure electronic linking of the Registry of Deaths with the single electoral roll to enable timely keeping and updating of the single electoral roll.

 

For full commitment text, please refer to the National Action Plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serbia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

Start Date: Ongoing

End Date: Q2 2019

Context and Objectives

This commitment addresses two issues relevant for a smooth-functioning electoral system in Serbia: 1) registering of Serbian nationals to vote from abroad in the national elections and 2) the accuracy of the electoral roll. Serbian citizens temporarily residing abroad have the right to request to vote in the country of their residence, in line with the Law on the Single Voters’ List, [104] but instances of poor communication between embassies and local governments previously prevented some citizens from exercising their right to vote. [105]

In addition, a lack of harmonization between the civic registers (managed separately in each municipality in an analog form) and the single electoral roll (with updates communicated through postal mail) created outdated information and errors, with deceased family members born in the nineteenth century still receiving calls to vote. [106] Experts believe that these mistakes and an inability to disclose a public voters’ list significantly distorted citizen trust in the electoral process. [107]

The two objectives of this commitment are to redress the above by making the registration of voters abroad simpler and more efficient through an online channel and by connecting the electoral roll with the Record of Deaths to keep a more accurate list of voters. The MPALSG also plans to hold trainings for the use of this software, outside of the scope of the OGP action plan. [108]

The commitment’s relevance for OGP values is unclear, as it proposes technical measures to improve the electoral registers.

Overall, the commitment is verifiable. However, it lacks certain details to measure implementation thoroughly. It lacks details on what steps are required for the establishment of the “separate page.” Moreover, the commitment vaguely describes the identified problem, using imprecise wording such as “certain issues in practice” and “numerous difficulties.” Still, if implemented as designed, the commitment would achieve a minor effect on changing the government practice. It could contribute to recovering the trust of citizens in the electoral system and enable the MPALSG to improve its internal monitoring and accountability.

Next steps

This commitment originates from the legal obligation of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government to implement the Law on the Single Voters’ List. Although essential for improving the integrity of the voting system, proposed milestones focus on technical tasks and lack innovation that would change the way government engages with citizens. As such, the commitment brings little value to the OGP process.

The IRM researchers recommend the following measures take place during the implementation:

  • Involving non-governmental stakeholders, which the ministry has not planned so far. [109]
  • MPALSG should regularly publish statements on the developments regarding the update and maintenance of the electoral roll and who the responsible persons are.
  • MPALSG should include harmonization with the Records of Marriages, which it reported already planning to do outside of the scope of this action plan. [110]

Future, more potentially meaningful commitments the government could consider including the following:

  • Experts believe that current rules for voting abroad, which include exclusively physical voting at stations that can be established only if at least 100 voters are registered, [111] is too restrictive. [112] The IRM researchers recommend the government consider remote voting mechanisms like postal voting for nationals of Germany, [113] Italy, [114] Switzerland, [115] the United Kingdom, [116] and the United States [117] or internet options like those in Estonia [118] and Switzerland. [119] The new laws on e-government and on e-identity and e-document can provide a solid legal base for further developments.
  • The government could examine practices maintained by the abovementioned countries regarding how to issue simple and citizen-friendly information sheets, on the voting mechanisms and options, electoral rights, and update of information in the electoral roll. This should help reduce bureaucratic language of the announcements, which often discourages engagement.
  • The Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability and the OSCE/ODIHR have recommended that the electoral roll is disclosed to the public while taking into account the protection of personal information in accordance with the law. [120]
[104] Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, 104/2009 i 99/2011.
[105] CRTA, “Izveštaj CRTA posmatračke misije “Građani na straži”, predsednički izbori 2017” [Report of the CRTA observing mission “Citizens on Watch,” presidential election 2017], available (in Serbian) at https://bit.ly/2Tslvy6.
[106] Ibid.; OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Final Report, available at https://bit.ly/2sjzaJv;  Insajder, “Od sada se umrli automatski brišu iz biračkog spiska, a do sada…” available (in Serbian) at https://insajder.net/sr/sajt/tema/13520/.
[107] Representatives of two CSOs observing the electoral process in Serbia, interviewed by IRM researcher, 26 February 2019 and 8 March 2019; OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Final Report, available at https://bit.ly/2sjzaJv.
[108] Representatives of the MPALSG, interviewed by IRM researchers, 21 February 2019.
[109] Ibid.
[110] Representatives of the MPALSG, interviewed by IRM researchers, 21 February 2019.
[111] Article 52, Law on the Election of the Members of the Parliament, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, 35/2000-897, 57/2003-41 (УС), 72/2003-1 (др.закон), 18/2004-1, 85/2005-30 (др. законик), 101/2005-28 (др. закон), 104/2009-57 (др. закон), 28/2011-22 (УС), 36/2011-93.
[112] Representatives of two CSOs observing the electoral process in Serbia, interviewed by IRM Researcher, 26 February 2019 and 8 March 2019; and CRTA, “Izveštaj CRTA posmatračke misije “Građani na straži”, predsednički izbori 2017” [Report of the CRTA observing mission “Citizens on Watch,” presidential election 2017], available (in Serbian) at https://bit.ly/2Tslvy6.
[120] CRTA, “Izveštaj CRTA posmatračke misije “Građani na straži”, predsednički izbori 2017” [Report of the CRTA observing mission “Citizens on Watch,” presidential election 2017], available (in Serbian) at https://bit.ly/2Tslvy6; OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Final Report, available at https://bit.ly/2sjzaJv.

Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. Develop a Model of Job Description or Part of Job Description of an Officer Responsible for Cooperation with Civil Society in Local Administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Organise Trainings for Public Administration Officers in Connection with the Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Organise Trainings for CSO in Connection with Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  34. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  38. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  42. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls