Hungary’s National Election Office has processed 32,254 mail-in ballots for the Sunday referendum against EU-wide “migrant quotas” and has deemed that 18% of them (5,708) were spoiled by voters. Hungarians living abroad and holding dual citizenship are eligible to vote by mail-in ballot, but thus far only 28% of the 274,573 registered voters have chosen to participate in the October 2nd referendum. The National Election Office will continue to both receive and process mail-in ballots on Thursday and Friday, but participation among those who live abroad and hold dual citizenship is far below the 50% +1 threshold. It’s hard to tell if the large number of spoiled ballots are deliberate, or merely an indication that Hungarians living abroad are not completing their voting packages as per the National Election Office’s instructions. It takes several steps to cast a valid mail-in vote. Voters must complete a declaration form with their name, date of birth and other personal information, and must include this form alongside their completed mail-in ballot, but must not place it together with their ballot into the small white envelope (which goes into the larger self-addressed and stamped envelope) that voters have been provided.
The satirical Hungarian Two Tailed Dog Party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt) has launched a very visible poster and billboard campaign in Hungary, calling on Hungarians to spoil their ballots in the October 2nd referendum. The party went as far as to develop an innovative mobile app, which allows pedestrians to use their smartphones to block out government referendum billboards in bus shelters and in public squares, and superimpose on them the Dog Party’s call to spoil ballots. The use of humour may be proving effective.
Meanwhile, on Thursday the Supreme Court of Hungary ruled that the Orbán government’s decision to mail letters to tens of thousands of Hungarians living abroad, imploring that they vote “no” (against EU-wide “migrant quotas”), contravened the country’s election law. The government used a database containing the addresses of Hungarian citizens registered to vote, in order to campaign for the ruling Fidesz party’s position in the referendum.