"OSCE Strongly Supports Citizen's Participation in Democratic Processes"
Albanian Daily News
Published June 9, 2017
Address of Head of OSCE Presence in Albania, Bernd Borchard on the Elections Conference on
"Domestic observation of ballot counting. Current legal framework and best practices for its implementation."

It is a pleasure to be here today with our key national partner: the Central Election Commission, and with so many domestic observer groups' representatives.

The OSCE strongly supports citizen's participation in democratic processes - Election observation is one of its many sides. Election observers are the public's eyes and ears in electoral processes, real watchdogs who help deterring electoral fraud and exposing process' irregularities and at the end they turn out to be citizens' voice with their final evaluation. But then again, to achieve this, election observation needs to be truly independent, impartial and professional.

At the OSCE we strongly believe that "the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance electoral processes," for this reason this important role has been assigned to the ODIHR since 1996. I am proud to have witnessed Albanian citizens as well as international observers having continuously raised concerns about corruptive practices in elections. Civil society has a central part to play in fighting against electoral corruption. Over the past years, it has increased election processes' transparency, and counting in particular.

Let me congratulate all civil society organizations present here today, for investing their efforts in raising awareness about elections' irregularities, and holding institutions accountable. You are the driving force for free and fair elections.
I was pleased to learn that NGOs have already accredited their observers for the 25 June parliamentary elections. I hope more domestic observers will join in the upcoming days.

In Albania, all electoral process' aspects can be observed. Nevertheless, citizen observers do not have the same rights as partisan observers, as they cannot obtain copies of polls' closing records and the counting results aggregate table or to file election-related complaints.

Also worth mentioning that, one of the ODIHR EOM priority recommendations for the 2013 parliamentary elections was that the Ballot Counting Centres (BCC) layout should allow observers to properly follow all aspects of counting and results tabulation.

While giving more rights to observers concerns changes to the Law, which we hope will soon be addressed, with regards to BCC layout (like the distance between the space reserved for observers and the counting tables), the role of the CEC is crucial. We encourage the CEC to take all necessary steps for the 25 June elections to ensure that meaningful observation of the counting process becomes possible.

As OSCE Presence we will continue to provide our support to the CEC and civil society organizations in your efforts to ensure that votes are cast, counted and reported fairly.

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