The phenomenon of vote-buying during electoral processes in Albania was at the forefront of a meeting today at the Special Electoral Reform Commission. Seeing it as a concerning issue, an expert from the Council of Europe, Quentin Reed, said that the buying votes is a violation of the human right to choose.  

In analyzing last year's election, Reed said that there was evidence of documents to legalize residential premises were used to buy votes and that such verified sales of the vote must be punished.  

"20% of Albanians have confirmed their votes were bought. 5-6% of Albanians were pressured to participate in political activities in 2017.  It is difficult to maintain full secrecy of the votes in small communities, regardless of the technology used," added Quentin Reed.  

At the conference titled "Vote Buying and Other Offenses Affecting Elections", the Council of Europe Expert further added that electronic voting can help, but will not fully resolve the problem.  The expert said that it must first be understood why the voters are willing to sell their votes. 

"We must understand why this phenomenon is present. According to a civil society survey on 2017, 20.6% of Albanians were offered money for their vote.  "Meanwhile 5.6% of Albanians have been pressured to participate in the activities of political parties. When selling votes, money is not the only currency. Even food is being offered in return for votes in poorer communities.  "Identity cards are being taken from citizens in order to vote for a respective party. Electoral monitoring by representatives of political parties is also of concern.  "Buying and selling a vote is a crime and this phenomenon must be legally punished," concluded Quentin Reed.  

At today's meeting of the Electoral Reform Commission, discussed focused on preventative mechanisms of voting buying, a problem that was widely seen in the OSCE/ODIHR report.  The Socialist Co-Chairman of the Electoral Reform Commission, Bledi Çuçi, said the sale of the vote is not an issue just for a party, but for all of Albania, so it should be minimized. 

Also, Democratic Party MP, Oerd Bylykbashi, said the problem of buying a vote is not a new issue, though finding a solution is essential.