THE ELECTION SYSTEM OF SWEDEN

The Kingdom of Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The head of state is the King (or Queen) who has only ceremonial duties and functions, but no executive prerogative. Executive authority is exercised by the government, which is composed of the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers, and held accountable to parliament. The prime minister is approved by the parliament. The Parliament (Riksdag) is a unicameral body composed of 349 deputies, elected for four-year terms. Of the 349 parliamentary mandates, 310 are elected using an open-list proportional representation system within 29 multi-member electoral constituencies. To be awarded a

‘permanent’ seat, a political party must either obtain 4 per cent of the votes cast nationwide or 12 per cent of the votes cast in one constituency. Votes are cast for open party lists in which voters may express a preference for individual candidates.

Elections in the Kingdom of Sweden are held every four years, and determine the makeup of the legislative bodies on the three levels of administrative division in the country. At the highest level, these elections determine the allocation of seats in the Riksdag, the national legislative body of Sweden. Elections to the 20county councils (landsting) and 290 municipal assemblies (kommunfullmäktige) are held concurrently with the legislative elections on the third Sunday of September, and use roughly the same electoral system.

The Riksdag:

The Riksdag is the national legislative assembly of Sweden. It performs the normal functions of a parliament in a parliamentary democracy. It enacts laws, amends the constitution and appoints a government. In most parliamentary democracies, the head of state commissions a politician to form a government. Under the new Instrument of Government enacted in 1974, that task was removed from the Monarch of Sweden and given to the Speaker of the Riksdag. To make changes to the Constitution under the new Instrument of Government, amendments must be approved twice by Parliament, in two successive electoral periods with a regular general election held in between.

Members of the Riksdag are elected by a two-tier proportional representation (PR) system. A total of 310 seats are filled in twenty-nine multi-member electoral constituencies. Permanent constituency seats, which are allocated among the constituencies in proportion to the size of their electorates, are distributed according to the adjusted odd-number or modified Sainte-Laguë method of PR. Voters may cast a ballot for a constituency party list, or for a specific candidate. Riksdag seats are apportioned on a nationwide basis among political parties in the same manner as constituency seats, namely by the modified Sainte-Laguë method. In order to participate in the distribution of Riksdag seats, a party must obtain at least four percent of all valid votes cast. However, a party that receives at least twelve percent of all valid votes in a constituency is entitled to take part in the distribution of that constituency’s permanent seats.

If the number of seats awarded to a party on a nationwide basis is smaller than its total number of constituency seats, the constituency seats obtained by the party in question are subtracted from the total number of Riksdag seats, and a nationwide distribution of the remaining seats is carried out among the other qualifying parties. This rule also applies to parties that have obtained constituency seats but polled fewer than four percent of the nationwide vote. Riksdag mandates won by a party at the multi-member constituency level are then subtracted from the total number of seats allocated to that party, and the remaining mandates are filled from thirty-nine adjustment seats. These mandates are subsequently allocated at the constituency level on the basis of the largest Sainte-Laguë quotients which have not been used to allocate permanent seats, or the total number of votes polled by a qualifying party in constituencies where it has not obtained any permanent seats.

The County Council:

A County Council, or Landsting, is an elected assembly of a County in Sweden. The County Council is a political entity, elected by the county electorate and typically its main responsibilities lie within the public health care system. In each county there is also a County Administrative Board which is an administrative entity appointed by the Government. Constitutionally the County Councils exercise a degree of municipal self government provided for in theConstitution of Sweden. This does not constitute any degree of federalism, which is consistent with Sweden’s status as a unitary state. In Swedish terminology the County Council is considered to be a “Provincial Municipality” or Landstingskommun.

In each County there are also several smaller entities for the local government and administration that constitute municipal self government, which are independent of the County Councils. It is called a “Primary Municipality” or Primärkommun, and more plainly “Municipality” or Kommun. The island of Gotland is a special case in that it makes up one full county but at the same time only one municipality. As Gotland does not have a separate entity for a County Council, the Municipality of Gotland also handles the County Council tasks. 

The Municipal Assembly:

A municipal assembly is the decision-making body governing each of the 290 municipalities of Sweden. Though the Swedish Local Government Act  uses the term “municipal assembly” in the English translation of the Act , “municipal council” and even “city council” are used as well, even in official contexts in English by several of Sweden’s largest municipalities. The number of members in each assembly can range from 31 to 101, depending on the population of the municipality in question. Members of the assemblies are chosen to serve for four-year terms through elections using a party-list proportional representation system. These municipal elections are held on the third Sunday of September, the same day as Swedish parliamentary elections.

II – Right of Equal Suffrage

The governing laws:

The constitution, the 2005 Elections Act (2005:837) and the Election Ordinance are the primary legal instruments regulating the conduct of parliamentary elections. The constitution is composed of four fundamental laws: (1) the 1974 Instrument of Government that provides for the basic features of the system of government, (2) the 1810 Act of Succession that provides the rules on succession to the throne, (3) the 1949 Freedom of the Press Act, and (4) the 1991 Fundamental Law on Freedom of

Expression The constitution outlines general principles of equal and universal suffrage, free, secret and direct elections of the Parliament, and the electoral system.

The 2005 Elections Act sets out detailed provisions for elections. It specifies the division of tasks between the local, regional and central election authorities, polling station staff and the Election Review Board. The Elections Act also contains provisions relating to electoral districts and boundary delimitation, design and production of ballot papers, procedures for voting, vote counting and the allocation of seats, and appeals against election results.

The Ordinance with Instructions for the Election Authority regulates the Election Authority, which has central administrative authority for elections. The Ordinance provides details concerning decision-making procedures and the organizational structure of the Authority.

Requirements to be a voter:

To vote in a Swedish parliamentary election, one must be:

a Swedish citizen,

at least 18 years of age on election day,

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and have at some point been a registered resident of Sweden (thus excluding foreign-born Swedes who have never lived in Sweden)

To vote in Swedish local elections (for the county councils and municipal assemblies), one must:

be a registered resident of the county or municipality in question and be at least 18 years of age on election day

fall into one of the following groups:

Swedish citizens

Citizens of Iceland, Norway, or any country in the European Union

Citizens of any other country who have permanent residency in Sweden and have lived in Sweden for three consecutive years

Requirements to be a candidate:

The requirements to be a candidate in the Sweden elections are:

nomination by a registered political party 

the names of the titular and substitute member must be submitted simultaneously 

The eligibility requirements of a candidate in the Sweden elections are:

qualified electors 

age: at least 18 years old on election day 

Swedish citizenship (including naturalized citizens) 

citizens overseas are eligible under certain conditions (if they are on the special electoral roll mentioned under voter requirements) 

ineligibilities: holders of temporary entry permits, undocumented immigrants

The manner of voting:

The manner of voting in Sweden is different because unlike in many countries where voters chose from a list of candidates or parties, each party in Sweden has separate ballot papers. The ballot papers must be identical in size and material, and have different colors depending on the type of election: yellow for Riksdag elections, blue for county council elections and white for municipal elections and elections to the European Parliament.

Swedish voters can choose between three different types of ballot papers. The party ballot paperhas simply the name of a political party printed on the front and is blank on the back. This ballot is used when a voter wishes to vote for a particular party, but does not wish to give preference to a particular candidate. The name ballot paper has a party name followed by a list of candidates (which can continue on the other side). A voter using this ballot can choose (but is not required) to cast a personal vote by entering a mark next to a particular candidate, in addition to voting for their political party. Alternatively, a voter can take a blank ballot paper and write a party name on it

Voting takes place at vote reception points. Voters shall vote in the first instance at their polling stations on the election day. They can also prior or during the election day vote at voting places set up by the municipalities or foreign missions. Voters may also in certain cases vote by messenger or letter. The Central Election Authority shall determine, following consultation with the Government Offices (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), the Swedish foreign missions at which there shall be voting places.

III – Reception and counting of votes:

Reception of votes:

For the vote reception at vote reception points there shall be a suitable number of screened places (voting booths) at a vote reception point where the voters can vote without being observed. In addition to the general provisions on voting and reception of votes that are included in Chapters 7 and 8 the provisions of this chapter apply for vote reception at polling stations. If the provisions of this chapter deviate from those in Chapters 7 and 8, the provisions of this chapter shall apply instead.

In addition to the general provisions on voting and reception of votes contained in Chapters 7 and 8, the provisions of this chapter shall apply for vote reception at voting places. If the provisions of this chapter deviate from those in Chapters 7 and 8, the provisions of this chapter shall apply instead.

Counting of Votes:

Immediately after vote reception at the polling station is concluded and all vote envelopes that shall be placed in the ballot box have been deposited in it, the voting clerks shall take out the envelopes and count the votes. The counting of votes is public and shall be implemented without interruption. The result of the counting of votes is preliminary.

On the Wednesday following the election day, the election committee shall meet to examine and count the votes that have not been counted at the polling stations. This meeting is public. The result of the committee’s counting of votes is preliminary. At the meeting the committee shall examine

1. window envelopes and cover envelopes for postal votes that up to and including the election day were received by the committee and retained there,

2. window envelopes and cover envelopes for postal votes that the voting clerks have returned to the committee in accordance with Chapter 9, Section 13,

3. window envelopes and cover envelopes for postal votes that were received by the committee before any of the ballot boxes referred to in Section 2 have been emptied, and

4. window envelopes and cover envelopes for postal votes that the voting clerks in accordance with Chapter 9, Section 12 have inserted into special covers. The examination shall in appropriate respects be conducted in the same way as according to Chapter 9, Sections 9-12.

After which, The county administrative board shall conduct the final counting of votes. The proceedings shall be public and shall be conducted without delay. If an election to the Riksdag has been held at the same time as another election, the election to the Riksdag shall be counted first.

The county administrative board shall at the proceedings consider whether the ballot papers are valid according to Sections 6 and 7 and whether any name on a ballot paper should be deemed to be non-existent according to Section 8 and also make the decisions required by this review. The county administrative board shall make the decisions that are necessary as a result of the information contained in the records referred to in Chapter 9, Section 16.

Election Authorities:

The Swedish Election Authority:

The Swedish Election Authority, or Valmyndigheten, is a Government agency responsible for organizing national elections and referendums in Sweden. The agency began its operations on 1 July 2001 when it took over the responsibilities from the Swedish National Tax Board. Local and regional elections are the responsibility of the respective municipalities and county councils, however these elections always take place concurrently with the national elections for the Parliament of Sweden. As the central administrative authority for elections, the Election Authority has an instrumental role in all public elections in Sweden. It is also the central administrative authority. The Authority is among other things responsible for compiling the electoral registers and the printing of voting cards. 

The County Administrative Board:

A County Administrative Board (Swedish: Länsstyrelse) is a Government appointed board of a County in Sweden. It is led by a Governor or Landshövding appointed for a term of six years and the list of succession, in most cases, stretches back to 1634 when the counties were created. The main responsibility of the County Administrative Board is to coordinate the development of the county in line with goals set in national politics. In each county there is also a County Council which is a policy-making assembly elected by the residents of the county. It is also the regional election authority. The county administrative board decides on electoral district boundaries and is responsible for the final counting of the votes in all elections.

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The Election Committee:

The Election Committee (valnämnden) is the local election authority in Stockholm. The Committee is responsible for the practical implementation of elections which includes to equip and man the polling stations, run the preliminary counting of the votes and to report the results.

Appeal:

Decisions or other measures according to this Act may be appealed against only to the extent as provided in this chapter. A decision by an election committee not to accept an impediment for accepting an assignment as voting clerk may be appealed against to the county administrative board. The time for appeals shall be counted from the day the decision was made. Decisions of the county administrative board under this section may not be appealed against. An appeal must be submitted to the authority that has issued the decision appealed against (deciding authority).

PART II – REVIEW AND EXAMINATION OF THE MAY 2010 AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM IN THE PHILIPPINES

Observation and Review:

Is the Philippines ready for automated election? Are we ready for something new? First, let us discuss the advantages and disadvantages that will emerge if our country engages with an automated election. Smartmatic (also referred as Smartmatic Corp. or Smartmatic International) is a multinational corporation founded in 2000 that specializes in the design and deployment of complex purpose-specific technology solutions. It is organized around three business areas: Electronic voting systems, integrated security systems, and biometric systems for people registration and authentication for government applications. Smartmatic offers the Smartmatic Automated Election System (SAES), a unified voting, scrutiny, tabulation, allocation and result broadcast solution -suitable for any type of election- which was officially released in 2003. In addition to the many benefits of the SAES system, its most outstanding advantage lies in the guarantee of total transparency in any given electoral or referendum process. SAES offers the possibility to verify and audit results through different means, guaranteeing zero numerical inconsistencies between all stages covered by every single vote, from actual casting to final scrutiny. Smartmatic provides us other benefits and advantages if we will deal with automation of election.

It has been a long time since the Filipinos gave their confidence and trust to the election system of the country. This is true because in the previous elections, there were so many of issues that tainted our election system’s integrity, one of which is the so called “dagdag bawas”. Then here comes a law which was enacted to improve the election system of our country. It was supposed to be implemented prior to the recent 2010 elections, but due to some problems that were encountered, it extended its implementation to the year 2010. This new law and the new system were implemented to help address the common problems of our election system.

“The May 10 election was the first ever nationwide automated election in the history of the Philippines. The election was widely viewed as a potential watershed in the Philippines’ democratic consolidation, in light of a history of elections marred by electoral fraud and irregularities.”

Also as worded in the post by Jimenez, Agnes Embile “This coming May 2010, every Filipino will have their taste of the first ever automated election here in the Philippines.  This is a very significant milestone in our country’s history given those long years of tedious manual election process that not only gives burden to our teachers and volunteers, but has also left doubtful and questionable election results. Through the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan System) machine, an automatic counting of votes will take place.  This won’t only make the task of our teachers lighter, but would also lessen massive cheating during election.  But, before anything else, we must know first how reliable this automated system is.  Below are important facts and details about Smartmatic’s PCOS machine.”

The new PCOS machine is supposed to support us in making our election procedure convenient and reliable. But during the date of the election and even prior to such date, it encountered plenty of problems. “While the automated election system (AES) is credited for improving the counting and canvassing process, there were problems with the testing, delivery and operation of the PCOS machines and its component parts”

A digital journalist commented, “The billion-peso automated election project of the Philippine government is facing a serious technical problem when the vote counting machines failed to count votes for some candidates during the mock-up polls conducted in some areas of Metro Manila. Less than a week before election day, the first Philippine automated election is in danger of being postponed or scrapped altogether if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and its private partner Smartmatic cannot remedy the glitches that came up when counting machines failed to count the votes of local candidates. The glitches were discovered when mock elections were conducted in some selected areas of Metro Manila and Mindoro province.”

The promised usefulness and efficiency of these PCOS machines and the integrity of the new Automated Election System in the Philippines were not fully realized when the date of election came. “On Election Day, the operation of the PCOS machines encountered numerous technical glitches, ranging from minor ones that lasted for a few minutes, to other technical problems that suspended polling for hours. As aforementioned, this severely delayed the 5 electoral processes, prolonged waiting times and discouraged voting. The on-site technical staff person, if present at all, often did not know how to solve the problem and had to call for external assistance. It was noted by ANFREL observers that these technicians reported that they had received very little training, two days at most”. “The Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) who administered the electoral process in each polling station should be commended for their diligent efforts. Nonetheless, several important aspects of electoral administration were flawed, which compromised the integrity of the electoral process. “

“Some problems with this year’s electoral administration are not new to Philippine elections. First and foremost, secrecy of the ballot was virtually impossible, due to the arrangement of the polling station xxx. “

“xxx Another fundamental problem was the laxity in checking voters’ identity against the registered voters list. xxx”

“xxx Distribution of campaign materials was also observed outside every polling compound visited by ANFREL observers, and in many instances inside the polling premises as well. xxx”

“xxx Majority of election materials, including PCOS machines, reached respective precincts on time for the election and ready to use, however there were many cases where the PCOS CF cards arrived late and cases of PCOS machines not arriving until sometime on Election Day itself. xxx”

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“xxx in most of the precincts, BEIs were not consistent in checking the fingers for ink before handing over the ballot papers.”

Notwithstanding these problems that occurred during the actual day of election, still COMELEC declared that it was a total success. As stated by Gomez, Jim in his post, “Despite glitches with new computerized counting machines and violence that claimed at least nine lives, election officials hailed Monday’s vote as a success in a country where poll fraud allegations have marred previous contests.”

Recommendations:

“Notwithstanding the results of the May 2010 elections with respect to the National Elections … not all of the local electoral results could be relied upon to the same extent…. the automated election system is in serious need of review and remedial measures.”

With the first automated election already conducted here in the Philippines and in view of the setbacks and glitches that occurred during such election, COMELEC should address these problems in order to have better automated elections in the future. Based on studies and actual experience on the previous automated election, it is strongly recommended that COMELEC should ensure that their BEI’s and poll watchers, including their technicians, are very well knowledgeable regarding their duties during election day. The BEI’s should ensure that the election process is fully and smoothly implemented to avoid unnecessary setbacks with regard to the election procedures, especially with the rules on the length of time which a voter is allowed in voting. This is for the reason that during the actual election, some voters where consuming too much time in voting but the BEI’s did not even take the necessary action. That problem caused so much inconvenience to the other voters, which led to some voters being discouraged in exercising their right to suffrage. For the poll watchers, they should ensure that the priority in voting of the voters is according to the first in time rule. Those who came to the voting precinct first should be given priority than those who came later. What happened in the previous election was voters who came in the voting precinct late were able to vote earlier than those voters who were already waiting in line to vote. This was due to personal reasons by the poll watchers and the abusive voters. Perhaps COMELEC should establish a way to minimize the waiting time of the voters during election day; examples could be giving of priority numbers, or maybe setting up schedules for each precinct in order to lessen the voters arriving in the voting area. For the part of the technicians, it is strongly recommended that COMELEC should ensure that the technicians they employ should be able to repair or solve any problems with regard to the operation of the machine. This is also one aspect which led to the delay of the voting procedures for what actually transpired during the previous election was that whenever the machine breaks down, the technicians were not able to fix or solve the problems.

Another aspect that COMELEC should address is on the rules regarding the schedules of the shipment of the machines. As what can be observed in the previous automated election, the PCOS machines arrived at the polling place on the day of the election. This is in violation of the rules set for by law, for there is a requirement on the days which the machines should arrive in the polling place. The reason for this rule is to enable the BEI’s to run a test on the machine a couple of days prior to the election, to ensure that the machines are working properly.

Also with regard to the aspect of voter’s secrecy, COMELEC should ensure that the votes of a voter are very well kept secret from other people. What actually transpired from the previous automated election was people outside the room used for voting were able to see the votes that were cast by a voter especially when the voter is about to feed the official ballot to the PCOS machine.

There are also other recommendations to the COMELEC given by reliable sources to ensure a more effective and efficient automated elections in the future.

“Based on the observations of this mission, ANFREL suggests the following to make elections in the Philippines more free and fair: Implement the regulations on campaign financing and spending; make all necessary efforts to end the culture of vote buying; eliminate campaigning on polling day, both inside and outside the polling stations; improve the voter registration process to ensure an authentic and reliable voters list; explore ways to modify the polling procedure or precinct districting in order to help maximize voter participation and public confidence in the election; ensure the secrecy of the ballot; strengthen training of BEIs and poll watchers to ensure that polling procedures are implemented in a uniform manner, and that the polling environment is orderly and peaceful; accredit a broad and representative range of civil society organizations, so that civil society can engage with and monitor the electoral process; design procedures to minimize the number of rejected ballots, such as conducting a manual count of rejected ballots; establish clear contingency plans for PCOS machine failure or transmission failure; publish data on the electoral process as soon as possible to increase transparency of the electoral process and allow for post-election monitoring by all stakeholders; thoroughly investigate election-related violent incidents as well as incidents of political violence, and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

From another source it stated their recommendation as follows:

“The delegation offered a series of recommendations that it hoped would be helpful in promoting inclusive, transparent and credible elections. They included urging: The Commission on Elections to undertake a major effort to bolster public confidence in the automated system and the impartiality of its decisions; That random manual audits should be undertaken using a large enough sample of electronic voting machines to assure public confidence in the automated system at the national level; The armed forces of the Philippines and the Philippines National Police to do all they can to support the integrity of the electoral process and the sanctity of the ballot, as well as bolster the safety of members of the news media; Robust and widespread public participation in nonpartisan citizen monitoring of elections; The government of the Philippines to mobilize all of its resources to educate the public about balloting procedures and the new automated system; and The election commission to make available on the Internet and in other forms the information currently available on campaign expenditures before the election.”

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