National Election Board: Northwest District Could Not Prove Ballot Count Met Standards

National Election Board: Northwest District Could Not Prove Ballot Count Met Standards

Published September 29, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Kristín Edwald, the chair of Iceland’s national election board, told reporters that the board did not receive confirmation from the Northwest District that their ballot counting has been conducted in a satisfactory manner, RÚV reports. The vote count in that district, and subsequent re-count following last Saturday’s general elections, has been fraught with questions about the integrity of the process.

While Kristín would not go into more detail about the matter, she referred to Article 46 of the constitution, which states: “Althingi decides whether its Members are legally elected and also whether a Member has lost eligibility for election to Althingi.”

Should Parliament determine that voting in the Northwest District was unsatisfactory, new elections will be held for that district within the next month, the results of which could change the composition of Parliament.

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As reported, a recount was called on Sunday, the day after election night, specifically for this district. It further came to light that, on election night, many of the ballots for the Northwest District were not sealed; instead, they were locked in a room. By Icelandic voting laws, ballots are supposed to be sealed after counting.

The subsequent recount did end up changing the gender balance of Parliament, and also switched out some candidates for others, but did not otherwise affect the overall results of which parties won how many seats. However, the lack of sealed ballots did raise questions about the integrity of the count. Lawyer Katrín Oddsdóttir told reporters that the unsealed ballots undermine trust in the count as a whole. This was countered by assurances that the ballots were all secure in a locked room.

However, it came to light that the daughter-in-law of the hotel manager for Hótel Borgarnes, where the ballot count for the Northwest District took place, posted photos to Instagram of the ballots—many of them unsealed—in an empty room. A campaign worker confirmed to reporters that she had been alone in the area at the time the photos were taken. While the photos have since been deleted, the incident did raise further questions about the integrity of the ballot count in the Northwest District.

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