Do not accept money for the vote and do not vote for criminals!

By Donald Lu*

 My mother is a saint. After raising three children and working full time, still found time to volunteer as chairman of a constituency in California. We Californian complain much. She had to deal with angry people who had forgotten identity documents or who dod not find their name in the voters list. We in California are so crazy that if she wants to vote from your car, we bring to you an electronic car to vote where you are.

She volunteered not for what little money they receive, but because he believed in the importance of fair elections and the obligation of citizens to be part of building a strong democracy.

When I visited polling stations during the local elections in Albania last summer, I saw mostly the same - people who work hard, like my mother, committed in doing the best job they could. Albanian employees of polling stations with which I met were ordinary people - teachers, factory workers and farmers.

So I was angry when I saw party militants seeking to undermine the work of these hones volunteers. Some EU ambassadors and I saw large groups of young gangsters, outside the polling stations that obviously wanted to frighten voters. Many people also gave us evidence of vote buying and group voting. And, as we know, some of the candidates had a shameful criminal background. Electoral abuses are a betrayal of the Albanian democracy.

These election issues were also noted in the assessment of the ODIHR election [odirit]. ODIHR also praised the work of thousands of employees in the polls who worked honorably in the Election Day. The United States supports strongly reforms based on the recommendations of ODIHR and urge Parliament to implement them this year.

But to achieve a real reform must be done even more.

Political parties need to take seriously the obligation to provide transparent party finances. We have seen a party that has announced plans for its financial transparency. We urge all political parties to present an international audit of the finances of political parties and their campaigns to make public declarations of assets of all candidates.

Party leaders also must do more to remove corrupt politicians and criminal connections among them and not put all their names on the ballot. Approval of the decriminalization law was an important first step, but now it is so important to fully implement it.

Finally, Albanian voters also need to take responsibility - responsibility to not accept money for their vote and not voting for criminals. Albanians and Americans love to complain about their politicians. We can not complain as we want, but in a democracy we are ultimately responsible for the politicians who choose.

* The speech of the US ambassador on electoral reform meeting.
Do not accept money for the vote and do not vote for criminals! Do not accept money for the vote and do not vote for criminals! Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Rating: 5
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