Act C on Electoral Procedure (1997) (excerpts)

Act C of 1997

on Electoral Procedure

Pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, suffrage is universal and equal; voting is direct and secret. To ensure that the exercise of the right to vote, the process of elections, referendums and popular initiatives shall be democratic and based on proper guarantees, the Parliament shall make the following law:

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PART TWO

SPECIAL PROVISIONS

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CHAPTER XIII

GENERAL REFERENDUM

§ 116 The provisions of Chapters I-X and Sections § 89, § 99/O shall be applied in national referendums in compliance with the deviations set forth in this Chapter.

Initiating the referendum

§ 117 (1) The National Election Committee shall attest the signature-collecting sheet, and the question complying with legislative conditions in thirty days from submission.

(2) The resolution of the National Election Committee with regard to the attestation of the signature-collecting sheet or the particular question shall be published in eight days in the Official Gazette of Hungary.

§ 118 (1) On the day when the defined time frame of legal remedy pursuant to Section § 130 (1) has passed without any result, or, in the event of legal remedy, on the day the Constitutional Court's confirmatory decision on the attestation resolution is published in the Official Gazette of Hungary, the head of the National Election Office shall apply an attestation clause to the specimen of the signature-collecting sheet. The collection of signatures may be commenced with a copy of the signature-collecting sheet with the attestation clause applied to it.

(2) The provisions of Section § 46 (2) and (4), § 48, § 50 (1) c) and (2), and § 54, § 59 and § 60 shall be applied to the collection of signatures in compliance with the deviations set forth in this Chapter.

(3) Each signature-collecting sheet shall begin with the question proposed for the referendum. One signature-collecting sheet may include one question. The signatures and the question shall be on the same page.

(4) On the signature-collecting sheets, the initiator's legible first name(s) and family name, address, and personal identification number shall be indicated beside the autographical signature in order to check the authenticity of the signature.

(5) The citizen collecting signatures shall sign the signature-collecting sheet.

§ 118/A (1) If the collection of signatures has not been completed before the 41st day prior to the date of the general parliamentary elections and the elections of the representatives and mayors of local governments, the signature-collecting sheets containing the signatures collected until then shall be delivered to the National Election Committee the latest before the 40th day prior to election day. The collection of signatures shall be discontinued during the period determined in Section § 3 (2) of Act III of 1998 on National Referendum and Popular Initiative.

(2) On the 41st day after the election day, the head of the National Election Office shall apply a new attestation clause to the specimen of the signature-collecting sheet. The collection of signatures shall not be pursued unless with a copy of the signature-collecting sheet with the new attestation clause applied to it before the end of the term determined in § 28/E of the Constitution. The length of discontinuance shall not be included in the term.

§ 119 (1) The checking of the signatures shall be the determination of the number of signatures that can be considered valid with statistical and mathematical methods by using the data of the voters signing the initiative of the referendum, the data of the particulars and address register and the register of major citizens disfranchised. If the statistical and mathematical method applied does not render the existence of the proper number of signatures probable, then the checking of signatures shall be continued by examining the signatures item by item until the validity or invalidity of the initiative can be ascertained beyond reasonable doubt.

(2) The representative of those submitting the initiative may attend the process of checking the signatures.

(3) The checking of the signatures shall be completed in 45 days from submitting the initiative.

§ 120 (1) If in the course of checking the signatures sufficient suspicion arises pertaining to the validity of specific signatures, and the validity or invalidity of such signatures affect the validity of the initiative, the National Election Committee may also check the identity through the central office or territorial body of the particulars and address register, or the head of the local election office.

(2) In the event of checking identity pursuant to Paragraph (1), the term of checking the signatures shall be extended for 30 days.

§ 121 The signature-collecting sheets shall be annihilated after 30 days after checking the signatures, or the termination of the remedial procedure.

Ordering and calling the referendum

§ 122 (1) The date for the referendum shall be set by the President of the Republic in 15 days after the legal remedy period against the parliamentary resolution ordering the referendum has passed without any result, or, in the event of legal remedy, after it has been adjudged.

(2) The referendum shall be called the latest 43 days before the polling day, for a day within 90 days from the publication of the parliamentary resolution ordering it, or, in the event of legal remedy, after it has been adjudged.

(3) The referendum may be also called for a date within the 43 days period pursuant to paragraph (2), if the President of the Republic has already called a referendum regarding another matter, and there are at least 20 days left before its date, and the simultaneous conducting of the referendum regarding the new issue does not endanger the legality of voting.

(4) Referendum shall not be held on the day of the general election of Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, and the representatives and mayors of local governments, and within 41 days preceding and following it. If a referendum may not be called pursuant to paragraph (2) due to the above, the referendum shall be called for a day within 131 days after the election.

(5) The decree on ordering and calling the referendum shall be published in the Official Gazette of Hungary.

§ 123 During the referendum the register shall be displayed in public 18 days before the polling day. Voters shall be informed about their having been entered in the register by sending them a notice before the 16th day prior to the polling day.

Election bodies

§ 124 (1) The following election committees shall work during the referendum:

a) ballot counting committees,

b) at settlements having one electoral district the local election committee carrying out the tasks of the ballot counting committees,

c) regional election committees,

d) the National Election Committee.

(2) The following election offices shall work during the referendum:

a) local election offices,

b) election office at the foreign representation,

c) parliamentary single mandate constituency election offices,

d) regional election offices,

e) the National Election Office.

The powers of election committees

§ 124/A (1) The ballot counting committee shall

a) check the polling station, conduct voting, arrange for the lawful implementation of voting,

b) decide disputes arising during voting,

c) count the ballots, and determine the result in the electoral district, and make out minutes thereof,

d) propose for the competent election committee to annul the results of the electoral district if it notices any violation of law that affects the results on the merits.

(2) The regional election committee shall

a) decide exclusively such referendum related reserves that concern its sphere of competence,

b) decide appeals against the ballot counting committee's resolution adopted pursuant to clause a) and b) paragraph (1),

c) initiate the decision of the body having powers, in case any violation of law is made known to it.

(3) The National Election Committee shall

a) issue a standpoint in order to develop a uniform interpretation of rules of law and uniform legal practice regarding the elections; the standpoint works as a guideline, no appeal against it lies; the standpoint shall be published in the Official Gazette of Hungary,

b) decide the authentication of the signature-collecting sheet and the specific question,

c) carry out the checking of the signatures submitted,

d) approve the data content of the ballot paper of the national referendum,

e) count the ballots cast at foreign representations, and determine the results of voting at foreign representations, and make out minutes thereof,

f) decide reserves regarding the activity of election offices at foreign representations, and any and all reserves that do not fall within the competence of the regional election committee,

g) decide appeals against the ballot counting committee's resolution adopted pursuant to clause c) paragraph (1),

h) decide appeals against the resolution of the regional election committee,

i) annul the results of voting if it establishes any violation of law that affects it on the merits,

j) determine and publish the result of the referendum,

k) initiate the decision of the body having powers, in case any violation of law is made known to it,

l) report on the referendum to the Parliament.

§ 125 (1) To the election committees, except for the National Election Committee, those submitting the initiative may delegate one common fiduciary for each election committee, and each of the political parties not participating in submitting the initiative but having a parliamentary representative group may delegate one fiduciary.

(2) The organisations submitting the initiative but having no parliamentary representative group may delegate one common representative as a member of the National Election Committee.

(3) Observers may be delegated to foreign representations by properly applying the provisions set forth in paragraph (1).

Voting

§ 126 (1) During voting, determining the result and legal remedy, each question put to the referendum shall be taken into consideration separately.

(2) One ballot-paper may include only one question.

Aggregating the ballots

§ 127 (1) When applying § 72, candidate shall mean answer.

(2) If there are several questions indicated on the ballot-paper, the valid ballots cast on the ballot-paper shall be calculated separately for each question. If the voter has voted for several answers concerning one question, these ballots shall be invalid; this, however, does not affect the validity of the ballot-paper. The ballot-papers containing both valid and invalid ballots shall be gathered in separate bundles. The number of valid ballots for each question and, more specifically, for each answer shall be written on the bundle.

§ 128 The result of the referendum shall be determined by the National Election Committee on the strength of the minutes of the ballot counting committees, after they have been received.

§ 129 With regard to the result of the referendum, the National Election Committee shall inform the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Parliament in writing and publish an announcement in the Official Gazette of Hungary.

Legal remedy

§ 130 (1) Reserves against any decision of the National Election Committee regarding the attestation of the signature-collecting sheet, or the particular question may be lodged in fifteen days from publishing the resolution, addressed to the Constitutional Court, with the National Election Committee.

(2) Reserves against the Parliament's resolution to order the referendum and to dismiss the ordering of a referendum to be obligatorily ordered may be lodged in eight days from publishing the resolution, addressed to the Constitutional Court, with the National Election Committee. The National Election Committee shall immediately inform the Speaker of Parliament with regard to lodging the reserve, and also the President of the Republic with regard to reserves against the resolution ordering the referendum.

(3) The Constitutional Court shall adjudge the reserve out of turn. The Constitutional Court shall either confirm or annul the resolution of the National Election Committee or the Parliament, and instruct the Parliament to commence a new procedure.

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CHAPTER XV

LOCAL REFERENDUM

§ 132 The provisions of Chapters I-X, except for the provisions pertaining to the register at foreign representations and voting at foreign representations, and the provisions of Sections § 118 (2)-(5), § 119, § 121, § 122 (1), § 123, § 126 and § 127 shall be applied in local referendums in compliance with the deviations set forth in this Chapter.

Initiating the referendum

§ 133 (1) Before the commencement of collecting signatures, a copy of signature-collecting sheets shall be submitted to the head of the local election office, or, regarding county, capital related matters, to the head of the regional election office, for authentication.

(2) The head of the local or regional election office shall authenticate the signature-collecting sheet that complies with legislative conditions in 15 days from submission. The authentication of the signature-collecting sheet shall be refused if

a) the question does not fall within the competence of the body of representatives, the general assembly,

b) local referendum on the question shall not be held,

c) a referendum on the same question has been held within one year,

d) the signature-collecting sheet does not comply with the requirements set forth in § 118.

(3) The decision of the local or regional election office regarding the authentication of the signature-collecting sheet shall be published the way it is locally customary.

(4) On the day when the term of legal remedy has passed without any result, or, in the event of legal remedy, on the day the court's confirmatory decision on the authentication resolution is delivered, the head of the local or regional election office shall apply an attestation clause to the specimen of the signature-collecting sheet. The collection of signatures may be commenced with a copy of the signature-collecting sheet with the attestation clause applied to it.

§ 134 (1) The citizens' initiative aimed at calling a referendum may be submitted to the mayor or the chairman of the general assembly (in this chapter jointly 'the mayor') once within one month after the authentication of the signature-collecting sheet. Signatures submitted subsequently, supplementing the initiative shall be invalid.

(2) In case of failing to comply with the defined time frame, the local or regional election committee will not check signatures.

§ 135 The checking of signatures shall be arranged for by the local or regional election committee.

§ 136 (1) If during checking the signatures sufficient suspicion arises regarding the originality of determined signatures, and the validity or invalidity of such signatures affects the validity of the initiative, the local or regional election committee may also check the identity on the grounds of the particulars and address register or through the head of the local election office.

(2) In the event of checking identity pursuant to paragraph (1), the term of checking the signatures shall be extended for 30 days.

§ 137 (1) The chairman of the local or regional election committee shall immediately inform the mayor about the findings of the checking of the signatures.

(2) The signature collecting sheets shall be annihilated after 30 days after checking the signatures, or the termination of the remedial procedure.

Ordering and calling the referendum

§ 138 The mayor shall announce the initiative aimed at ordering the referendum on the next session day after receipt of the information set forth in Section § 137 (1), or, in the event of non-citizen initiatives, after the submission thereof.

§ 139 A decision shall be made on the initiative aimed at ordering the referendum in 30 days from the mayor's announcement.

§ 140 If the initiative aimed at ordering the referendum has been submitted late, or as a result of checking the signatures the local or regional election committee has established that the number of valid signatures do not attain the number determined under the municipality decree, the mayor will dismiss the initiative.

§ 141 The referendum shall be called by the body of representatives, or the metropolitan, county general assembly (in this chapter jointly 'the body of representatives') simultaneously with ordering the referendum, for a date within four months from the date thereof.

§ 142 The decree on ordering and calling the referendum shall be published in the official gazette of the local government, or the way it is locally customary.

Election bodies

§ 143 (1) The following election committees shall work during the local referendum:

a) ballot counting committees,

b) local election committee,

c) regional election committees,

d) regarding capital, county related matters, the National Election Committee.

(2) The following election offices shall work during the local referendum:

a) local election offices,

b) parliamentary single mandate constituency election offices,

c) regional election offices,

d) regarding capital, county related matters, the National Election Office.

The powers of election committees

§ 143/A (1) The ballot counting committee shall

a) check the polling station, conduct voting, arrange for the lawful implementation of voting,

b) decide disputes arising during voting,

c) count the ballots, and determine the result in the electoral district, and make out minutes thereof,

d) propose for the competent election committee to annul the results of the electoral district if it notices any violation of law that affects the results on the merits.

(2) The local election committee shall

a) check the signatures submitted,

b) decide reserves regarding the referendum,

c) decide appeals against the resolution of the ballot counting committee adopted pursuant to clause a) and b) paragraph (1),

d) annul the results of voting if it establishes any violation of law that affects it on the merits,

e) determine and publish the result of the referendum,

f) initiate the decision of the body having powers, in case any violation of law is made known to it.

(3) The regional election committee shall

a) decide appeals against the local election committee's resolution

b) initiate the decision of the body having powers, in case any violation of law is made known to it.

(4) The National Election Committee shall issue a standpoint in order to develop a uniform interpretation of rules of law and uniform legal practice regarding the elections; the standpoint works as a guideline, no appeal against it lies; the standpoint shall be published in the Official Gazette of Hungary.

(5) In the event of local referendums on regional level the duties set forth in paragraph (2) will be fulfilled by the regional election committee, the duties set forth in paragraph (3) by the National Election Committee.

§ 144 To the ballot counting committee and the local election committee, or, regarding capital or county related matters, to the regional election committee, those submitting the initiative may delegate one common fiduciary for each election committee, and each of the nominating organisations not participating in submitting the initiative but having a representative group in the body of representatives may delegate one fiduciary.

Aggregating the ballots

§ 145 (1) The result of the referendum shall be determined by the local election committee, or, in the event of capital, county related matters, the regional election committee on the strength of the minutes of the ballot counting committees.

(2) No data sheet shall be drawn up in local referendums.

Legal remedy

§ 146 (1) Reserves against the decision of the head of the local or the regional election office regarding the authentication of the signature-collecting sheet may be lodged in fifteen days from publishing the decision with the local court (in Budapest, the Pest Central District Court) or the county court.

(2) Reserves against the resolution of the body of representatives or the general assembly to order the referendum and to dismiss the ordering of a referendum to be obligatorily ordered may be lodged in eight days from publishing the resolution with the local court (in Budapest, the Pest Central District Court) or the county court.

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