On Thursday morning, a Romanian journalist was notified that several filled-out ballots for the Hungarian parliamentary elections had been apparently dumped on the side of the road near Târgu Mureş, Romania, where large numbers of ethnic Hungarians with the right to vote reside.
When news of the misplaced, partially-burned ballots was reported yesterday, the political opposition declared election fraud, and opposition leader Péter Márki-Zay immediately called for all mail-in ballots coming from neighboring countries to be annulled.
Fidesz allies in Transylvania, as well as Fidesz itself in Hungary, were slow to react to the news. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) first told Azonnali that they viewed the act as a provocation by “someone,” while Fidesz announced that the left-wing had burned the ballots.
At the same time, the news portal Maszol.ro, which typically reflects the views of the RMDSZ, began to suggest that the incident was a provocation, mentioning that the discarded ballots were found close to where well-known independent journalist Boróka Parászka lives, and that she was also photographed there when police investigated. Maszol appeared to imply that the journalist herself was the perpetrator.
Although several Fidesz loyalists in Transylvania stood by this story, it had changed by the afternoon, with Maszol writing that invalid votes had been destroyed at the edge of the town of Jedd.
However, the Electoral Act does not permit any ballot to be destroyed until at least 90 days after the end of the elections.
Azonnali contacted the Mureş County Police on the matter, who said they had ordered an official investigation into the matter to find out the details. All they were willing to say for the time being was that the evidence had been removed from the scene and was being investigated.
Mail-in votes are actively collected
Átlátszó Erdély reportedly viewed a text message sent from a Cluj County RMDSZ representative to party activists, which pointed out that they had only managed to collect 40% of the total ballots four years ago, and urged them to do better this time.
Do not give it to your priest or take it to the consulate! Hand it over to your county-level RMDSZ committee!
-read the text message.
Géza Antal, the executive chair of the Cluj County RMDSZ, confirmed to Átlátszó that such text messages had been sent out, but denied that there were quotas they had to fill.
Azonnali also asked Antal to explain why, if there were no quotas, activists were requested not to take the ballots to the Hungarian consulate, where they would eventually end up.
While the RMDSZ leader did not wish to comment on this question, he did acknowledge to the news site that such behavior could arose suspicion in their organization “if someone is malicious.”
Despite Antal’s denials of there being a quota, many Transylvanian Hungarian politicians have posted photos of themselves on social media with mail-in ballots. One example is Attila Zoltán Csibi, the mayor of a small town in Mureş County, who posted photos of himself with a large stack of ballots on Facebook.
The fact that party activists and party members can collect votes does not constitute electoral fraud. Under current law, anyone can be entrusted to take the sealed envelopes to a Hungarian consulate.
[Azonnali][Photo: Átlátszó Erdély / Facebook]