Ballot box (iStock photo via @Martinns)

Czech minister: voting from quarantine not possible before the upcoming autumn elections

The opposition argues that all eligible voters must have a chance to cast their ballot

Legislation that would enable people to vote from quarantine and prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection cannot be passed and introduced before this autumn’s regional and Senate elections, Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek told media before Monday’s cabinet meeting.

The law prevents those who are in isolation due to infection, including those who are suspected to be or may potentially be ill, from turning up at a polling station, Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

“It is impossible to take the ballot box to these people’s homes because this would endanger the election commission members,” he said, adding that these are not the whims of the Interior Ministry but long-lasting rules.

Media, such as daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), previously pointed out that quarantined people cannot take part in elections.

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Opposition TOP 09 chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova wrote on Twitter today that she had repeatedly proposed a bill on postal voting in the Chamber of Deputies. She said the cabinet should seek a path to enable citizens to cast their ballot in accordance with their right to vote.

“Postal voting cannot be introduced as quickly as by October. In addition, it would not solve the situation,” Hamacek said.

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The virus might stay on the envelopes with ballot papers that are sent to voters, which would have to be disinfected. “It would pose a risk for all who would come into contact with the consignment,” Hamacek said.

There is no solution that could be implemented by the autumn and eliminate all risks. In the long-term, electronic voting may be the solution, he said.

Hamacek said he is not afraid that the autumn election results may be challenged over the absence of quarantined voters.

“I believe that the [epidemiological] situation in the autumn will not be as dramatic as to influence the elections critically,” he said.

Reacting to Hamacek, the opposition Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) said the cabinet has had enough time to prepare changes that would guarantee people’s chance to cast their ballots.

“The cabinet has to see to that all eligible voters having a chance to fulfill their civic duty, otherwise the elections will not be fair and free,” KDU-CSL chairman Marian Jurecka said.

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