Ruling party wants charges dropped over voter lists

Local governments that may have broken the law when they handed lists of voters in their respective constituencies to Polish Post will not be prosecuted under a new bill filed by the ruling party.

In the spring of 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Law and Justice (PiS) decided to press ahead with the presidential election scheduled for May, but changed its format to a postal vote.

The hastily organised process raised concerns that Polish law may have been violated. The idea of a postal vote was later dropped due to disagreements within the ruling coalition, and the election went ahead as normal in late June and early July.

"On Tuesday, we submitted a new bill on the presidential election of May 2022," PiS secretary general Krzysztof Sobolewski said. "We hope the Sejm (the lower house of parliament - PAP) will process the bill as soon as possible."

Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, said later on Tuesday that municipalities that had made their electoral lists available to the postal service had not broken the Polish constitution.

He said that "failure to implement these regulations (contained in the bill - PAP) would be very unfair towards the local governments that wanted to follow the constitution."

He went on to say that "the execution of presidential elections is one of the key provisions in our constitution."

A number of complaints have been filed with the prosecution over the legality of passing electoral lists to Polish Post, a commercial company owned by the state, by local governments. A Polish court ruled that the Wapno municipality abused its powers and acted without a legal basis when it made its electoral list available to Polish Post, a civil rights NGO reported in the spring of 2022.