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Analysis of the invalid ballots

Sarajevo, 03.03.2020  – After the BiH Central Election Commission confirmed results of the 2018 General Elections certain participants of the electoral process expressed doubts concerning the number of invalid ballots and attempted to connect it to abuses and irregularities. Although none of 60.000 observes filed an objection to the Minutes of the polling stations concerning the ballot count, the BiH Central Election Commission passed the Conclusion and adopted the Methodology on analysis of the invalid ballots.

The basis of the adopted Methodology was to determine a representative sample for the analysis of invalid ballots, process invalid ballots in a systematic way, and get measureable indicators to provide a relevant answer to the issue of structure and base of ballots’ invalidity.


The analysis that was conducted from December 9, 2019 to February 23, 2020 covered 300 polling stations i.e. 50 polling stations for every body of authority on a sufficiently representative sample.


Main conclusion of the analysis is the following:



A total of 2.90% of all invalid ballots at the 2018 General Elections were analyzed i.e. 15.482 invalid ballots whereat it was determined that 8.365 or 54.04% are blank (unmarked) ballots, 3.830 or 24.73% are crossed out (unmarked, but crossed out) ballots, followed by 3.001 or 19.38% of the ballots on which 2 or more political entities were marked and 286 or 1.85% of the ballots with added content. It is important to note that the analysis showed that all the invalid ballots analyzed were authentic, i.e. that there were no copied ballots without a watermark.


It can be concluded from the results of the analysis that a large number, almost 8’% of the analyzed invalid ballots are blank, unmarked or crossed out, which confirms the earlier position of the Central Election Commission of BiH that it is about the will of the voter not to vote for anyone, i.e. that is it is a kind of boycott or protest of voters.


The objective of the said activity of the BiH Central Election Commission was to obtain an expert finding on the analysis of invalid ballots so that concrete measures could be taken that would lead to a reduction in the number of invalid ballots at the future elections. One of the measures that may be proposed is that the ballot paper should provide for the option “I do not vote for anyone”, which already exists as a practice in some countries, and that blank unmarked ballots should not be counted in invalid ballots. 

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