Postal vote only secure election form amid epidemic - health min
A safe presidential election in its traditional form would be possible in two years at the earliest due to the coronavirus epidemic, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Friday and added that if political parties disagree on it, the only secure form is postal voting.
"My recommendations for conducting presidential elections in the traditional manner, where we all go to the ballots, meet at polling stations, would be possible in two years' time at the earliest," Szumowski said.
According to him, from a medical point of view there are no better or worse dates to conduct a postal ballot.
"We will be able to provide guidelines regarding the postal vote once we know the technical details of such elections," Szumowski said.
He added that he would inform the prime minister about all the details regarding the execution of a postal vote as soon as the bill is fully formed and returned to the Polish parliament.
Szumowski also said that there is no evidence that postal votes conducted elsewhere in the world had caused a significant increase in coronavirus incidence, citing the example of March's Bavarian runoff elections held in this way.
During a Saturday press conference, MPs of the opposition Civic Coalition (KO) said the health minister's endorsing postal voting as safe compromises the health of citizens. They also said that the KO caucus had decided to notify the prosecutor's office about a possible criminal act by Szumowski by giving such a recommendation.
The ruling party Law and Justice's spokesperson, Radoslaw Fogiel, called the KO's declaration "absurd" and "showing a complete lack of logic."
"Accusing a minister who is fighting a pandemic and has one of the best results in Europe, who recommends the most secure way of conducting elections, is not being serious and not worth any consideration," Fogiel told PAP.
The national presidential election is scheduled for May 10, but recently the lower house of parliament, which is dominated by the ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), passed bills allowing for an all-postal vote and postponing the ballot by a week.
The Senate, which received the draft laws in early April and where PiS does not enjoy a majority, will likely adhere to the maximum allowed period of 30 days to process the bills. In case of any amendments, the legislation returns to the Sejm, which can overturn any changes made by the upper house.