Agora Election Observation is a non governmental non profit organisation whose mandate is fostering a democratic, participatory, diverse, equal and transnational Europe committed to human rights. In particular, the organisation aims to train young people as international election observers and report on youth participation in elections in Europe. This is done by deploying young people themselves on election observation missions.
The following preliminary statement of Agora Election Observation Mission to Hungary covers mainly the Election Day observations. Please note, that the detailed findings will be presented in a final report drawing on the full analysis of the data collected throughout the Mission.
Agora Election Observation Mission to Hungary deployed 28 observers of 18 nationalities to observe April 3rd, 2022 Parliamentary Elections. The mission was designed around research tasks and different meetings with stakeholders and local interlocutors, including election administration authorities, political parties, civil society representatives and other international observers. For the Election Day, observers were sent to five counties of Hungary and visited 119 polling stations to observe the voting, 12 polling stations to observe the opening, and 12 for the closing and counting procedures.
In Hungary, international observers belonging to both, non-governmental and governmental organisations, are allowed to observe all the phases of the elections, which is in line with the relevant international standards. The accreditation procedures were clear and well administered by the Hungarian authorities, thus facilitating the deployment of the Mission. Polling station commissions were generally cooperative. However, domestic organisations are not allowed to observe elections in Hungary, resulting in an obstacle to the full participation of citizens and young people in the electoral process.
In general, the Election Day itself was observed as calm by our mission, with no tensions, unrest or sign of campaigning neither inside nor in the vicinity of the visited polling stations. Polling stations staff showed professionalism and good understanding of the procedures. The atmosphere was generally peaceful and friendly.
Almost all the observed polling stations at opening and closing opened and closed on time. The opening as well as the closing and counting procedures were generally well followed in the observed polling stations with only a few procedural inaccuracies. Specifically there have been cases where the number of casted ballots did not reconcile with the number of voters and missed the number of recorded signatures by a few ballots.
During the voting procedures the observation has identified aspects that could be improved. For example, the layout of the polling stations was generally adequate for conducting the voting, but in some cases it lacked sufficient space. This occasionally caused crowded situations where the proximity of the persons present in the polling stations at the same time did not always guarantee the secrecy of the vote. Cases of group/family voting that could not be justified as assisted voting, yet tolerated by the polling station staff, have been observed. On a positive note, people with disabilities could be allocated to polling stations that are accessible independently. However, a certain number among the polling stations assessed as not accessible by the mission was nevertheless considered accessible by the Hungarian authorities, thus preventing voters from being allocated in polling stations adequate to their needs. Material in Braille was always present in all polling stations where it had been requested and voters had also the possibility to request mobile voting.
The overall environment in the visited polling stations and the transparency of the vote during Election Day are assessed as positive. In particular, the polling station staff’s understanding of voting procedures and their implementation throughout Election Day was generally very good, organised and efficient. Voters were generally aware of the procedures, election material was always present and no case of interference in the voting procedure was observed. Agora Election Observation observers, except in a single case, were not restricted in their observation activities.