Supreme Court explains the procedure of processing election protests
The sessions are held every day and are conducted by teams composed of three Supreme Court justices - the spokesman for the Supreme Court (SN), judge Michał Laskowski, told TVN24 on Wednesday. He explained the procedure of examining submitted election protests.
The deadline for submitting protests against the validity of parliamentary elections has passed. Any remarks must have been submitted by 4pm on Tuesday in the Supreme Court or sent by post until the end of that day.
In a conversation with TVN24, the spokesman for the Supreme Court, judge Michał Laskowski, said that by Wednesday morning, 62 election protests were submitted. Later thay day, judge Krzysztof Michałowski from the SN said that the number went up to 73 protests.
"First three have been already examined in a sense. After a formal control, it was decided that those weren't protests, and thus they couldn't have been processed further," said judge Laskowski. Fourth protest was examined later on Wednesday.
"There are also some protests that have been sent to us by email, fax and through ePUAP platform. These cannot be treated as election protests," he explained.
First formal, then factual control
Laskowski also explained the procedure of examining the submitted protests.
"Every day sessions are held by teams composed of three Supreme Court justices, who at first control the formal side of the protests: whether or not they were submitted before the deadline, by an authorised person, and if the accusations of irregulatities were supported by some circumstances pointed out by the author of the protest - such accusations must be formulated in line with the law," the judge said.
He explained that only after formal control "follows the stage of factual examination of the protest".
Votes aren't counted by election commissioners
Michał Laskowski said that the Supreme Court may turn to courts of lower instance for so-called court help, for instance, in case of votes recount.
"So far, the Supreme Court had usually used the court help. The situation may have not been identical, but right here, in the Supreme Court, votes were being recounted and voting cards were being examined," he said.
The judge stressed that during the procedure of examining election protests votes are not counted by election commissioners.
PiS cited wrong provision
The ruling PiS party, in their protests against Senate elections, cited article 227 of the electoral code, which pertains to elections to the Sejm. Articles pertaining to the Senate are 268 and 269. Can this render the protests invalid?
"The decision on this matter will be taken by the court. I think, however, that such formal error, as apparently we're dealing with erroneous citation of a provision, should not fundamentally affect the examination of the protest," judge Laskowski explained.
He added that "such errors occur in various legal documents, in appeals and cassations".
"Usually, we consider such errors as those of formal nature, which do not exclude the possiblity of filing the protest itself," the Supreme Court spokesman underscored.
Does wrong addressee makes protest invalid?
"In the current legal state, the protests are processed by one chamber (of the Supreme Court): the Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamber," Laskowski said.
It happens, however, that protests are referred to other chambers of the SN.
"I understand the intentions of those who addressed their protests either to the First President (of the SN - Małgorzata Gersdorf, or to the Labour Law and Social Security Chamber, which had used to deal with the protests. I wouldn't like to speculate before the decision is made, but I think that these protests will be referred to the appropriate chamber, in line with the procedure," the judge said.
"This is a routine procedure," he added.
Protest valid. What next?
"At the end of the protest examination process, the chamber issues a resolution on either validity or invalidity of the elections, in a given fragment or as a whole," the SN spokesman said.
After announcing invalidity, the Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamber addresses the National Electoral Commission to initiate further steps, which "may lead to repeating of elections in given constituencies," Laskowski added.
According to the electoral code, by adopting a resolution regarding invalidity of elections or invalidity of election of a representative or a senator, the Supreme Court "announces termination of mandates in question and decides on holding another election, or on undertaking some electoral steps, specifying the stage from which the election procedure should be repeated".