Justice Minister Bojan Maricic announced that the Government will leave it until June to decide if the process of purchasing fingerprint devices for the October municipal elections is proceeding well. This casual approach seems to confirm the suspicions of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party that the ruling SDSM party is not serious about upholding the law and add this extra layer of protection in the process.
I thin we need to make an estimate in June if we can realistically have the devices in use by the elections, Maricic said, warning that the system may prove unreliable and could prevent citizens from voting if a machine breaks down or the electoral committees are unprepared to use them.
VMRO-DPMNE insists that the use of these devices is mandated by law and that SDSM and its officials like Maricic are deliberately dragging out the procurement and training process to avoid having the devices in use. SDSM has resorted to electoral fraud, especially during the 2018 name change referendum, when faced with the dismal turnout the ruling party orchestrated ballot stuffing numerous polling stations, especially in the majority Albanian parts of the country. The fingerprint devices would allow the votes to be re-examined after the election and would pinpoint cases of fraud and abuse, but it seems that SDSM and its DUI coalition partner are not prepared for such scrutiny of the way they conduct elections.
VMRO-DPMNE wanted to have the devices procured and put in use for the planned census as well – another field operation that is likely to be manipulated in the Albanian districts. SDSM refused to allow the devices to be used by the census teams.