Poles who joined the grassroots, civic initiative #PoloniaNIEmaWyboru, decided to strongly protest against the disregard for their voting rights in the upcoming presidential elections. “We, Polish expats, stand up against the unlawful practice of taking away our constitutional right to vote in the presidential elections on the 10th of May 2020.” – they emphasize.
Althought 162 district electoral commissions around the world have been created, at consulates and embassies, and althought Poles living abroad (permanently or temporarily) can sign up to the electoral register from 21st of April to 7th of May (via the Internet, telephone or via the dedicated portal ewybory.msz.gov.pl), their widespread participation in the elections seems so far doubtful. In Great Britain, where nearly 1 mln Poles found their new home, only 10 electoral commissions have been created, while in the last presidential elections there were 36 such committees.
Poles living abroad fear not being able to take part in the upcoming presidential elections due to restrictions introduced in many countries. Aleksandra Maciejowska, who coordinates the group's activities in the UK admits openly: – Voting will not be possible for thousands of people in the UK due to travel bans. We have the right to move only to perform the necessary work, and do the shopping, and we are entitled to one form of physical activity per day.
In order to publicize the problem, Poles in the UK decided to issue a MANIFESTO.
Read the full MANIFESTO text below:
We, Polish expats, stand up against the unlawful practice of taking away our constitutional right to vote in the presidential elections on the 10th of May 2020.
The global COVID-19 pandemic forced many governments to implement unprecedented safety measures and precautions, including making people stay at home.
Polish citizens residing or temporarily staying abroad must comply with restrictions affecting respective countries. It makes it impossible for them to take part in the elections, without breaking the relevant countries’ laws, compromising their health and safety and, moreover, can result in severe fines.
The Polish Government has not done enough to create appropriate voting conditions for Polish citizens abroad. We are not able to fulfil our constitutional right to vote. There is no option to vote via post and the number of polling stations is much lower than in previous years, even though the number of Polish expats has not decreased. Therefore, people who want to vote, in many cases, will have to travel far to the nearest polling station. It puts them and others at unnecessary risk and it also means they must carry extra cost and spare more time, travelling across the country.
In many countries and regions, flights, ferry services and public transport have been significantly reduced or even suspended. In some it is impossible to travel at all due to COVID-19 travel ban.
Polish citizens abroad were not offered any support from the government, Embassies, Consulates Generals, to make it easier and safer for them to vote, without having to break local COVID-19 restrictions.
Consequently, we, Polish citizens abroad, protest about withdrawing our right to vote guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.