Organization and conduct of election
Settlement of election date
The settlement of election date is the electoral procedure that marks the beginning of the conduct of election. According to Article 60, paragraph (2) of the Constitution, the election to the Chamber of Deputies and Senate is held within 3 months at the most from the expiry of the mandate or from the dissolution of Parliament The election date shall be settled and publicly announced by the Government at least 60 days before the election day, and up to the passage of 5 days since the three-month term provided by the Constitution starts to be counted, or since the day of dissolution of the legislative forum.
The constituencies form the territorial organizational framework in which the proceedings for the election of Deputies and Senators take place. The constituencies for the election of the Members of Parliament are established by law, each constituency corresponding to a county. The same law stipulates the number and numbering of the constituencies.
In order to participate in the poll, the citizens with vote "right" are recorded in electoral lists. The electoral lists are permanent and special.
Permanent electoral lists
These lists, which are unique state documents, are drawn up by the mayors of communes, towns or municipalities, or of administrative subdivisions of municipalities, by localities.
The electoral lists include all the citizens having the "right" to vote, individuaÍized in the order of the number of voter's house, specifying his/her name and surname, date of birth and domicile, as well as the number of the constituency. Each voter is registered only in a single permanent list, thus being regulated the principle of the uniqueness of recording true to the criterion of domicile, the recording being nevertheless compuIsory.
The Election Law establishes the universal character of the permanent lists, since they include both citizens having their domicile in the country and those having their domicile abroad. The latter are recorded in the permanent lists of the locality in which they were born, or in which they had their domicile in the country, if they so request from the Diplomatic Mission of Romania in the country where they reside, or directly from the local council.
The permanent electoral lists are compulsorily updated every year by the mayors. They must inform the court of law of any modification in the electoral lists.
The law includes special provisions with regard to the updating of the permanent electoral lists in certain situations, namely in the case of deceased persons, of persons who have lost their citizenship, and of disfranchised persons, cases that entail their striking off the permanent electoral lists.
Special electoral lists
The special electoral lists are drawn up only on the occasion of a suffrage, and only by the electoral bureaux of the polling stations, bearing the signatures of their chairmen.
These lists include the name and surname, domicile, date of birth, number and series of the voter's identity paper. The situations when special electoral lists are drawn up are the following:
(a) for members of the army, students, diplomats, and other citizens who are abroad, at polling stations specially formed attached to the institutions where the respective persons carry on their activity;
(b) for citizens who, for various reasons, cannot vote at the polling station from their domicile (where they are recorded in the permanent list), at any polling station for citizens having the "right" to vote. In this class there are also included those persons who have only their residence in the locality where they vote.
The law provides the voters' "right" to verify the electoral lists irrespective of their character - permanent or special.
In case of omissions, wrong registrations, or errors found in the electoral lists, the Election Law provides ways of attack formulated by the voter who considers himself wronged, namely objections, legal action, and appeal.
Since it is a matter of electoral disputed claims proceedings, the settlement terms of these ways of attack are very short, the provisions of civil procedure being applicable.
The present Election Law has reintroduced the voter's card which is an interwar tradition in Romania, beginning with the first suffrage after the 1992 parliamentary and presidential election.
The voter's card is a permanent electoral identity paper valid for all the consultations with a national character, attesting the quality of voter.
The form of the voter's card is provided in the Election Law. It includes data referring to the identification of the voter, of the mayor who delivers the voter's card, the mention "not transferable", the number of the suffrages.
The voter's card is drawn up by the mayor of the locality where the voter has his domicile. A voter can receive only one voter's card, which he must keep and use only for himself.
The Election Law also provides the possibility of formulating certain ways of attack in connection with the drawing up and delivery of the voter's card (omissions, wrong registrations, or other errors), which are the same as in the case of the elector al lists.
The entire organization and conduct of the electoral proceed in s are subject to the control of citizens, of political parties, political formations and coalitions, within a climate of order ensured by the Government and the authorities of local public administration. At the same time, the Election Law has created the electoral bureaux, which are electoral courts of law for the organization and conduct of the electoral proceedings.
The Central Electoral Bureau, the constituency bureau and the electoral bureau of the polling station are constituted according to the stipulations of the Election Law whenever a parliamentary election takes place.
The law institutes a special protection for all the members ofthese bureaux, that is, in achieving the prerogatives of the electoral bureaux, their members are considered to exercise an office involving state authority, for which reason, in case of violation of this protection, the criminal law ensures the punishment of the culprits.
According to the responsibilities of the members of the electoral bureaux, the law requires, as an obligation, that they should exercise this office correctly and impartially. Infringement of this obligation may even entail criminal punishment, if the conditions of criminal responsibility are fulf Iled.
The members of the electoral bureaux are compulsorily magistrates, other jurists and representatives of political parties, formations and coalitions. The candidates cannot be members of the electoral bureaux.
The mode of formation and the composition of the electoral bureaux may be uestioned in front of the court of law within 48 hours as from the expiry of their constitution or completion term, as the case may be, by parties, political formations, and by independent candidates. The decisions delivered are final.
The Central Electoral Bureau
The Central Electoral Bureau is composed of 7 judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, and of 16 representatives of the parties, political formations and coalitions participating in the election.
The prerogatives of the Central Electoral Bureau are stipulated in the Election Law, and refer to supervision of the updating of electoral lists; following up the enforcement of the legal provisions on election throughout the country and their uniform interpretation; settlement of objections referring to its own activity, and of complaints with regard to the proceedings of the constituency bureaux; enforcement of provisions regarding the legal electoral threshold. The Central Electoral Bureau receives from the constituency bureaux minutes stating the number of validly expressed votes for each list of candidates, sums up these votes for the whole country, separately for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and ascertains whether there are parties, political formations, or coalitions which have not cumulated the threshold of 3 per cent. If there are such organizations, it informs the constituency bureaux, and makes public, within 24 hours, the parties and political formations which are in such a situation.
Likewise, the Central Electoral Bureau verifies and registers the poll returns for each constituency. On the basis of these returns it sums up the unused votes throughout the country, and proceeds to the centralized distribution and to the spreading by constituencies of the mandates of Members of Parliament which have not been assigned by the constituency bureaux.
The Central Electoral Bureau may decide the cancelling of the poll in a constituency in case there are found frauds during the voting or ascertainment of poll returns.
These prerogatives of the Central Electoral Bureau are also completed with others provided bv the Election Law.
The constituency bureau is composed of 3 judges from the county tribunals and from that of the Municipality of Bucuresti, as the case may be, and not more than 8 representatives of the parties, political formations or coalitions participating in election in the constituency where the respective bureau operates.
The constituency bureaux follow up the enforcement of the legal provisions regarding the election in the constituency where they operate, taking into account the uniform interpretations of the Central Electoral Bureau, and supervise the organization of the polling stations.
The constituency bureaux receive and register the nominations put forward, on which occasions they verify the fulfilment of all the legal conditions required for standing for parliamentary election. They also establish whether the nominations have remained final or not, and make the necessary publication and posting rovided by the law with regard to the lists of candidates and the independent nominations.The Election Law confers on the constituency bureaux the prerogatives of an electoral disputed claims authority.
The constituency bureaux have the obligation to provide the electoral stamps and the printing of the ballot papers.
These bureaux are essential factors in establishing the poll returns, and in assigning the Deputy and Senator mandates. They have the prerogative to receive from the electoral bureaux of the polling stations the returns registered in these stations, to totalize these returns at the level of the constituency, by parties, political formations and coalitions, and to draw up minutes with the returns obtained by each list of candidates or independent candidate in the respective constituency. These minutes are forwarded to the Central Electoral Bureau in order to establish the participants in the election that have exceeded the electoral threshold of 3 percent. On receiving from the Central Electoral Bureau the communication including those who have exceeded the electoral threshold, the constituency bureaux properly ascertain the returns of the election in the respective constituency, assign the mandates of the Members of Parliament and issue the certificates attesting the election.
Electoral bureaux of polling stations
These bureaux conduct the electoral proceedings that are carried out within the framework of the polling stations.
The bureaux of the polling stations are composed of a chairman, a deputy-chairman, and not more than 7 members.
One of the most important prerogatives of the bureau is that of conducting the voting proceedings, and of ensuring the order in and around the premises of the polling station.
After the conclusion of the voting, the electoral bureau of the polling station proceeds to the counting of the votes and recording of the returns.
The polling station bureau is also an electoral disputed claims authority, since it has the power to settle objections with reference to its own activity.
The Election Law regulates the nomination of candidates, ascertains the persons who may stand for election, describes the procedure for presentation and examination of nominations, as well as the complaints that can be formulated in connection with the nominations.
Nominations of candidates can be made by the parties or political formations participating in the election, and, in the case of independent candidates, on the basis of the list of supporters.
The parties and political formations from electoral coalitions may participate in the election only on the lists of the coalition. A party or political formation may belong only to one coalition. Coalitions may be organized only at a national level.
The number of candidates on a list may exceed the number of mandates resulting from the representation norm by two up to one quarter of the number of mandates, thus being regulated the principle of closed lists.
As regards the independent candidates, they may participate in the election by self-proposal, if they have the support of at least 0.5 per cent out of the total number of voters recorded in the permanent lists of the localities situated in the constituency where they stand for election. There are forbidden independent nominations on lists of candidates forwarded by parties, political formations or coalitions, or lists of independent candidates.
Each nomination of candidate in election must be accompanied by a statement accepting the nomination, personally written, signed, and dated by the candidate.
Nominations of candidates are made by constituencies, and are presented to the constituency bureaux not later than 30 days before the election day.
Persons who, on the day of presentation of nominations, do not fulfil the constitutional conditions for the exercise of the "right" to be elected, as well as the persons who, during the last 6 months previous to the election day, have exercised, within the area of the constituency where they want to stand for election, offices of prefect, sub-prefect, or head of the public services of ministries and of other governmental authorities decentralized in these units, cannot stand for election, the law introducing an absolute interdiction in this respect.
The law permits that a person should stand both for Parliament and for the office of President of Romania, since the Constitution does not provide as an interdiction the double nomination of a candidate in parliamentary election (for Parliament and Presidency of the Country), but only the incompatibility between the two dignities.
The constituency bureau verifies the observance of the legal conditions to be fulfilled by a person in order to be able to stand as candidate, and afterwards registers the nominations proposed (on lists or individually).
The nominations are posted up at the seat of the constituency bureau, and then are printed on the ballot papers.
Ballot papers and electoral signs
The ballot papers are electoral documents in which the voters' options are graphically concretized.
The Election Law provides one form of ballot paper for the Chamber of Deputies and one for the Senate required for ensuring their uniformity and also the secrecy of the vote. The dimension of the ballot paper is not typified under the shape of the form, thus being different from one constituency to another, depending on the number of lists and of candidates, and on the space required for their printing.
The number of ballot papers to be printed is that corresponding to the number of voters, with an excess of 10 per cent provided for those who cannot be registered in the special electoral lists.
The Election Law prescribes that the printed ballot papers be handed over to the chairman of the constituency bureau, on the basis of written minutes, who, in turn, will proceed to their distribution, also on the basis of written minutes, to the chairmen of the polling stations. The distribution is to be made at least 2 days before the election day.
In order to ensure the transparency of the election process and to allow the voters to get used to the ballot papers, the Election Law provides the obligation of posting up two copies of the ballot papers, of course endorsed and cancelled by the chairman of the constituency bureau, one day before the election. The posting up is made at the seats of the courts of first instance, and of the polling stations.
For the same purpose of ensuring correct elections and transparency of the electoral procedure, specific to a state governed by the rule of law, the Election Law provides the "right" of parties, political formations and coalitions, or of the independent candidates, to obtain at their request, for each one separately from the constituency bureau, two endorsed and cancelled ballot papers.
In order to identify the electoral signs adequately, the law provides that the electoral si n be printed in he upper "right" hand corner of the quadrilaterals on the ballot papers, within a certain graphic space.
The electoral signs are established by the parties, political formations or their coalitions, or by the independent candidates, with a single limitation, namely that they should not be contrary to the statutory order.
The law provides the obligation of communicating the electoral sign, with a view to its assignment, to the Central Electoral Bureau within 3 days as from its setting up.
The assignment and publication of the electoral sign are ensured by the Central Electoral Bureau.
Facilities in the electoral campaign
In the electoral campaign, the candidates, parties, political formations, all the social organizations, and citizens have the "right" to express their opinions freely and without any discrimination, through meetings, assemblies, the use of television, radio and press, and of the other means of mass information.
Access to the public services of radio and television is guaranteed. Thus, according to the Election Law, the parties, political formations, and independent candidates represented in Parliament have access to the public services of radio and television, subsidized from the state budget. The rest of the parties, political formations, and independent candidates have access to the respective services on the basis of contracts.
Broadcasting time is granted bv the management of the public radio and television services.
The parties and political formations participating in the elector al campaign may receive, by special law, a subvention from the state budget. The parties and political formations which have not obtained at least 5 per cent of the votes validly expressed throughout the country are to return this subvention within 2 months as from the voting day.
It is forbidden the subvention of the electoral campaign, either directly or indirectly, by natural or legal persons from abroad.
At the same time, it is forbidden the subvention of the elector al campaign of a party, political formation, their coalition, or of an independent candidate by a public authority, a public institution, a self-managed public company, or a company in which the state holds most or all of the capital.
Subventions for the electoral campaign from the state budget or from other legal persons, or from natural persons may be received only through an authorized financial agent designated for this purpose by the leadership of the party or political formation involved.
Conduct of voting
Voting is a particularly important operation in the electoral process, which is conducted at the polling stations, under the supervision of the chairman of the polling station bureau. The conduct of voting includes two stages. The first stage refers to the electoral operations preliminary to the voting, consisting in certain organizational and material measures, and the second one, strictly to the casting of vote on election day.
As regards strictly the voting, the law regulates the duration of voting, which begins at 6:00 hours and ends at 21:00 hours.
The duration of voting may be exceptionally extended by 3 more hours after 21:00 hours, that is up to 24:00 hours.
At 21:00 hours, or at 24:00 hours, if the voting was extended the chairman of the electoral bureau of the polling station declares the voting concluded, and orders the closing of the polling station.
Since the conduct of free and correct elections can be achieved only in a civilized climate of order, the Election Law provides a series of rules to this end:
- the chairman of the polling station bureau shall take all the necessary measures for the polling to proceed in good conditions;
- the powers of the chairman of the polling station bureau also extend outside the polling station, in its yard to the entries into the yard, around the building of the polÍing station, as well as in the streets and open public places, within a radius of 500 metres. These powers are exercised through the agency of the necessary order-keeping means provided by the prefects together with the Ministry of the Interior;
- with the exception of the members of the electoral bureau of the polling station, of candidates and accredited delegates, no other person is allowed to stop or stand in the public places around the polling area or in the polling station more than the time necessary for casting the vote.
Accreditation of the delegates is made by the Central Electoral Bureau for the Romanian press, film studios, radio, and television companies, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the foreign press, film studios, radio, and television, or for the representatives of certain international organizations that have requested accreditation.
Returning of votes
The returning of votes obtained in election is realized by centralizing them, in a first stage, at the polling stations, and, in a second stage, at the level of constituencies. After these results are established, the constituency bureaux distribute and assign the mandates at the constituency level. These operations are achieved in two stages. In the first stage, the polling station electoral coefficient is determined, and in the second one, the distribution and assignment of mandates is achieved. The Election Law provides the summing up at the country level of the votes left unused in the distribution of mandates at the constituency level. The parliamentary mandates left undistributed are a lotted, according to the Hondt system, centralized at the country level, by the Central Electoral Bureau. This procedure is achieved only for the unused remainders of the lists proposed by parties, political formations or their coalitions.
For independent candidates, the unused remainders are considered lost.
The Election Law provides the possibility of organizing and conducting by-elections only in two situations,. namely in the case of voiding the general election in a constituency, and in the case of vacancy of a parliamentary mandate, which cannot be covered by bringing in Parliament the alternate candidate on the electoral lists.