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NVB Orders Recount of Invalid Votes in Budapest Mayor Election

Elections

Photo by MTI/Tamás Purger

The National Election Commission (NVB) ordered the recount of invalid votes in the Budapest mayoral election on Wednesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

NVB ordered the opening of all polling station ballot boxes in the capital and the recounting of invalid votes in Sunday's mayoral election by 12 votes to 4.

In its decision, the NVB said that the evidence gave grounds to believe that there were a large number of invalid votes that should be considered valid under the Electoral Procedure Act. In the commission's view, a recount is justified in order to establish the result of the election in a satisfactory manner.

The ballots will be delivered to the National Election Office (NVI) and recounted by the NVB, but with the assistance of the NVI.

Attila Nagy, president of the office, said after the decision that he would instruct the district election offices of the capital to deliver the invalid ballot papers for the election of the mayor to the NVI by 4 p.m. on Thursday. Members of the local election commission will be present at the opening of the ballot boxes.

The recount of the 24,592 invalid votes will start on Friday morning and is expected to be completed on the same day.

For the recount, the NVB will use the guidelines set out in the Election Day Circular of the Metropolitan Election Office, which states that where a regular vote was cast for another candidate in addition to a candidate who withdrew from the race despite being on the ballot, it will be considered valid.

Vitézy Points to Possible Irregularities

Dávid Vitézy, who finished second behind Gergely Karácsony by only 324 votes in the race for Budapest Mayor, appealed against the decision of the Budapest Election Committee (FVB) establishing the result of the election for mayor, arguing that its content was unlawful because the evidence in 202 polling stations showed that votes that were valid were also declared invalid.

He pointed out that Alexandra Szentkirályi was the Fidesz-KDNP candidate for mayor, but withdrew within the legal deadline, but it was no longer possible to print new ballot papers, so the Budapest Election Office arranged for the candidate's name to be crossed out.

According to the appeal, some local electoral offices did not carry out the crossing out in the same way, and several of the methods of the crossing out were not clear, with a confusing thin line indicating that the candidate had been eliminated. Vitézy argued that a large number of votes were cast where the voter cast a vote for the withdrawn candidate and then, noticing that Szentkirályi's name was actually crossed out, cast a vote for another candidate, adding that under the law, a vote for the withdrawn candidate should be considered moot.

According to the appeal, in 202 polling stations in 20 districts, the electoral committees have unlawfully declared such ballot papers invalid. Vitézy argued that the invalid votes and the unlawful vote counting practice had a measurable impact on the election results, and he therefore asked the NVB to reverse the decision of the FVB and recount all invalid votes in all polling stations.

4 NVB Delegates Vote Against Recount

Four delegates, Dezső Avarkeszi (Democratic Coalition), Tamás Fazekas (Party for Dialogue for Hungary), Gergely Gönczi (Momentum), and András Litresits (Hungarian Socialist Party), did not vote in favor of the NVB's decision. They argued that they had barely more than an hour to read the proposal and that, in their opinion, there was no justification for the "hasty decision".

They argued that it was in everyone's interest that a well-founded decision should be taken, but that the speed of the process jeopardized the soundness of the decision. It was also argued that the 202 polling station statements made for the appeal did not mean that there was a systemic error and therefore a recount of all invalid votes was not justified.  

However, those in favor of a recount argued that it was in everyone's interest to have the final result of the election as soon as possible.

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