Bosnia MPs to Vote on Video Surveillance at Elections

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Mar 21 2018

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s parliament is set to vote on a law that will allow video surveillance and scanners to be installed at elections in a measure aimed at preventing any possibility of poll fraud.  Lawmakers in the House of Peoples of Bosnia’s state-level parliament are to vote on Wednesday on legal changes approving the use video surveillance and scanners during polling.

“We want voters to decide on the results of the election, and not those who count the votes,” Sasa Magazinovic, a member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party, SDP, told BIRN.

Parliament’s other chamber, the House of Representatives, adopted the amendments to the country’s electoral law at the beginning of this month. Bosnia is not believed to have major problems with electoral fraud, although some irregularities were noted at the local polls in 2016.

But video surveillance will make the entire process of counting the votes more transparent, while scanning the ballot papers will prevent any kind of manipulation, Jovana Kljajic, spokesperson for Pod Lupom, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections in Bosnia, told BIRN.

“This is part of a recommendation that we presented to state officials with the aim of having more transparent elections in the country,” Kljajic said.

Online identification will also prevent someone voting under the name of another person.

“This whole process can bring trust in the electoral system to those who do not vote and it is the most important thing in this story, since we are not satisfied with the current solutions,” Magazinovic said.

According to Pod Lupom, the whole process could cost around seven million euros, but there is the possibility of borrowing some of the equipment or finding other solutions if MPs approve the legal changes.

Kljajic said that if the changes if adopted, they must be in line with the protection of the secrecy of voting and personal data. The changes are supported by the Democratic Front and the Alliance for Better Future of Bosnia as well as the SDP, but the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ and the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD are against them.

The Party of Democratic Progress, PDP, one of the strongest opposition parties in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, called on Stasa Kosarac, a Serb MP from the SNSD to support the law after his recent visit to Russia to observe last weekend’s presidential elections.

“After the experience that he had as an observer at the Russia presidential election, we believe that he noticed cameras and scanners and we expect that he will support this idea in Bosnia,” the PDP said a press statement.

According to Pod Lupom, Russian and Armenia are currently using video surveillance at elections.

“Some sort of online identification is used in Armenia, Montenegro, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Sweden and Lithuania, while scanners are used in Russia, Latvia and Norway, and Georgia will start using them soon,” Kljajic said.

The next elections are due in Bosnia in October this year.

“It is hard to predict whether these changes will be effected for these elections or the next ones in 2020, but the first step is to adopt the new law and the rest will be sorted out,” Kljajic said.

Mladen Lakic