The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint by opposition MPs over the so-called “voting tourism” legislation, arguing that there was no danger that a legal change permitting the registration of fake addresses could affect the outcome of the election.
Parliament voted in November 2021 that a person would no longer have to actually live in a certain address for it to be registered as their permanent address. But in a close electoral district, even the difference of a few hundred voters can shift the election one way or another if an effort was made to do so.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and Political Capital argued at the time that this change would open up the possibility of “voting tourism” and put the fairness of Hungary’s elections into doubt.
The government, however, argued that the intent of the legal amendment was simply not to punish the nearly two million people who do not live at their permanent address because, for example, they rent an apartment or remain registered with their parents.
Opposition MPs who believe the legal amendment to be unconstitutional appealed to the Constitutional Court over the issue, arguing that one’s place of residence serves as the basis for being a part of the surrounding political community. This means that individuals who are not part of the political community where they are registered may be able to influence the vote there in an unrestricted manner.
However, a Constitutional Court council headed by Miklós Juhász did not agree with this view. The council argued at length that “in order to prevent abuse,” it remains true that “the consent of the landlord is still required for registering addresses, with legally-provided exceptions.”
Therefore, “the rules guaranteeing the address register as a public register of address declarations have not been substantially changed by the legislature,” claimed the Court, adding that the law “still does not permit the declaration of fictitious addresses.” The change in the concept of permanent residence “does not in itself affect the conditions of political participation rights,” the Court found.
On this basis, the five-member council of the Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the complaint by opposition MPs on the unconstitutionality of the new address registration rule.