SUSPICION of attempts to buy votes of members of the Roma community was reported in eastern Slovakia. The district election commission in Vranov nad Topľou discovered the possible attempts of vote-buying at the local Community Centre OZ Europa in the town of Čemerné.
Marcela Pčolinská, the chairwoman of the local election commission told the SITA newswire that they had found posters placed on fences in this Roma village with the text: “We are all going to vote for President Gašparovič at 14:00. We will meet at the bakery”.
The former bakery building now serves as the Roma community centre, SITA wrote.
“People were celebrating and drinking in the community centre,” Pčolinská said. “There were about sixty to seventy Roma there. The ‘banquet’ for them was hosted by a municipal council deputy, Alfonz Kaliáš.” When Pčolinská asked him what he thought he was doing he replied that he could hold a banquet for his people whenever he wanted.
The election commission immediately requested the police to check the situation and intervene. She said the posters had been placed on the fences on Saturday and she took one as evidence.
The district election commission in Vranov nad Topľou had sent its members to examine the situation in Čemerné after it received indications of unlawful manipulation of ballots. Voluntary activists from the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party had received similar information. SDKÚ had decided to monitor Roma villages in eastern Slovakia on the day of the election to prevent any such attempts.
The director of SDKÚ’s district office, Ján Vysocký, claimed that manipulation was done in such a way that the first “voter” placed an envelope without a ballot into the ballot box and then carried the blank ballot out of the polling room. The ballot was then “marked” by a so-called ‘Roma Patrol Coordinator” and given to the next voter who put it into the official ballot envelope and deposited it into the ballot box and then brought out another blank ballot. The coordinator allegedly paid €3 for each such blank ballot.