Oversights "nearly impacted election result"
The Secretary General of Alþingi requested information on the number of invalidated ballots and the reason for them, from all constituencies. The responses show that at least 13 votes were declared invalid because they lacked a stamp of signature of a returning officer. There could have been more, however, because the information was not available for three of the six constituencies. Northeast and Southwest Iceland only had the number of rejected early ballots available, but not the reason behind the rejections. Northwest Iceland did not record the total number of early ballots compared to those made on polling day.
Comparing the responses to the outcome of the election, it is clear that returning officers nearly had an effect on the outcome of the election on South Iceland. In that constituency, five votes were invalidated because the returning officer’s signature was missing. Meanwhile, Vinstri grænir (Left Green) candidate Hólmfríður Árnadóttir needed only eight more votes to take a constituency seat from Birgir Þórarinsson (Miðflokkurinn/Centre Party).
“It is of course unacceptable that representatives of the state were the cause that the right to vote was effectively taken away from voters,” says professor Ólafur Þ. Harðarson.
Ólafur says this requires closer attention. For example, it must be established whether mistakes were limited to unpaid foreign honorary consuls processing votes for Icelanders living overseas, or whether Icelandic returning officers also made mistakes.
“It is clear that such mistakes would never invalidate an election or lead to a re-run. On the other hand, this, like the mess-up in the northwest, shows that there is every reason to follow the advice of the parliamentary credentials committee to tighten up all aspects of election organisation and to start re-examining the new election law that has, in fact, not yet come into force,” Ólafur says.