Voter registration in BiH has been passive since 2006, while active registration applies to voters who vote from abroad. A total of 3.368.666 citizens of BiH, who are registered in the Central Voters’ Register as of August 18, 2022, had the right to vote on October 2, 2022.
The Central Voters’ Register (CBS) is derived from the register of population, based on data on citizens who are fulfilling the conditions and who have permanent and temporary residence. Citizens that are living abroad can keep their permanent registration in BiH. The BiH CEC maintains the CBS and, within its competences, is responsible for its accuracy and completeness. However, the BiH CEC depends on the accuracy of data provided by other institutions responsible for updating the register of population.
When it comes to the fact that deceased voters appear on the voter list, according to the law, the responsibility to report the death of a citizen to the municipality is mainly on the family of the deceased citizen. After that, the municipality has the obligation to deliver a printed death certificate to the relevant police office, based on which the police manually process the data. Only the police have the authority to delete the data of deceased persons from the local population register database. The described mechanism is prone to human error and leaves room for abuse, and can result in lags, which leads to late reporting and inaccurate data in the register of population.
In terms of the timeliness of the Central Voters’ Register it is very important to underline that there were no reports of a higher number of names of deceased persons on voters’ lists in basic constituencies, which was the case in previous election cycles, but only some incidental cases. The observers of the Coalition reported that the Center for Voters’ Register in Ključ municipality has not worked throughout the entire reporting period.
When it comes to by-mail voting, a record in numbers of applications for this mode of voting (approximately 130.000 applications) was broken for the 2020 Local Elections, but a record was also broken in the number (attempts) of personal data abuse for this mode of voting. One of the recommendations made by the Coalition “Pod lupom” after these elections was that it is necessary to introduce additional safeguarding mechanisms to prevent abuses of by-mail voting. For the 2022 General Elections the BiH CEC has prescribed additional mechanisms in its regulations stipulating that the OCV applications can only be submitted electronically through the portal E-izbori, available on the website, or via fax. Having in mind that limitations were imposed that one OCV application can be sent from only one e-mail address, that copy of a valid BiH document must be uploaded, that there has to be a proof of residence abroad, and that the applications cannot be sent through post, the space for abuses, which were observed in previous election cycles, was significantly narrowed. Narrowing of the space for potential manipulations has most likely affected the number of OCV applications, whose number for these elections was almost two times lower compared to the elections two years ago (69.966 voters registered to vote by mail).
ODIHR in its Final Report of the Election Observation Mission in 2018 pointed out that further efforts should be made to improve the accuracy of voter registration. For this purpose, a revision of the mechanism to register death in the registry book should be considered in order to ensure the timely exchange of data and correction of data on citizens. The authorities could create an effective electronic notification system between the institutions involved in the process with clearly defined responsibilities and deadlines. The obligation to report on the citizen’s death to the registry office could be transferred to the appropriate health institutions.
Also, in the aforementioned report, it was noticed that in order to increase the confidence of the public in the integrity of the voter registration process, various stakeholders, including political parties and CSOs, could be invited in the process to revise voter lists that would be initiated and supervised by the BiH CEC.