Year 2009 marks a 90th anniversary of the formation of the first election organizing body in Republic of Lithuania - Central Constituent Electoral Commission (now Central Electoral Commission). Ever changing political and historical context had an impact on institution‘s name, however its founding purpose and objectives remained the same, i. e., to organize and carry out Seimas elections of the Republic of Lithuania; also presidential and municipal council elections and referenda since 1992.
At the end of 1919, Republic‘s foreign and domestic political situation has stabilized. Thus, it was a very favorable time to initiate Constituent elections and create a legal basis for the first democratic elections in independent Lithuania. To get ready for upcoming elections, special commission was formed to prepare a draft of Constituent elections law, moreover Elections Act was prepared (July 16th, 1919) and passed in October 30th, 1919. Constituent election law was adopted by the State Council (November 20th, 1919) and published in December 2nd, 1919.
The first institution responsible for the organization and execution of Constituent Seimas elections (Central Electoral Commision) was formed on December 10th, 1919. Commission‘s president position was grated to a well-known lawyer, Minister of Justice of the 1st and the 2nd Cabinet; later – 4th government's Minister of Internal Affairs, dean of the Law Faculty Petras Leonas (1922-1933). Members: judge Vladas Macys, priest and February 16th signatory Kazimieras Šaulys, Jewish representative and judge Levas Garfunkelis and lawyer A. Bzozovskis.
Lithuanian Constituent Seimas electoral law‘s (adopted in October 30th, 1919) Article 8 stated that the following commissions were made to organize and manage elections to the Constituent Seimas: a) the Central Electoral Commission; b) commissions of districts; c) commissions of country-side districts. Article 9 regulated the internal structure of Central Electoral Commission: commission consists of a President and four members, which were provided by the Cabinet of Ministers and appointed by the President. Article 11 stated the functions of Central Electoral Commission: 1) to monitor all procedures, 2) to edit and publish instructions and explanations, 3) to discuss complaints about regional commission‘s resolutions, 4) to declare the list of Constituent Seimas representatives, 5) to carry out goverment‘s funds which are assigned to arrange elections, 6) to determine the number of representatives for each electoral constituency. According to the law, a districts election commission chairman was one of the local judges of peace or county court members. Districts election commission members: county councils (two from each county).
Such regulation also remained in July 19, 1922 Seimas election law (V. Z., 1922, no. 98-793). Salaries of the president of Central Electoral Commission and its‘ members law provided 3000 golden coins salary for the president of Central Electoral Commission and 75 golden coins for its‘ members per meeting. Such amount of money, compared to salaries of other civil servants, were rather symbolic, i. e. compensated for potential financial losses that may come from fulfilling duties at Central Electoral Commission. For example, salaries of the central and local institutions officials‘law provided 6000 gold coins salary for Prime Minister and 4500 – for Minister.
On January 12th, 1920 Central Electoral Commission announced that Constituent Seimas elections will befall on April 14-15th. 1920. According to the electoral law, the following regions were included into the territory of Republic of Lithuania: 1) Vilnius (at the time occupied by Poland) and 2) Klaipeda region (according to the Treaty of Versailles this region was separated from Germany, but not yet transferred to the Republic of Lithuania). The Central Electoral Commission assigned 229 places, distributed between eleven constituencies uniting three-four counties and embracing ethnographic territory of Lithuania. However, in independent Lithuania elections could only take place in six constituencies; moreover – only 112 representatives could be elected: VII-X districts originally belonged to the main portion of the former province of Vilnius (at the time under the influence of the Republic of Poland). According to the law, constituent Seimas elections could have been separated in Klaipeda region (which at the time did not belong to the Republic of Lithuania), therefore, showing that the Republic of Lithuania considers this region as a part of its‘own territory.
Second Central Electoral Commission was formed in 1922 to organize first Lithuanian Seimas elections: commission‘s president – Petras Leonas, members – judge Vladas Macys, jewish representative B. Fridmanas, member of Constituent Seimas Kazimieras Jokantas (elected by Lithuanian Farmers‘ union list).
July 19th, 1922 Seimas election law was very similar to the Constituent Seimas election law. Nine counties were formed and divided into districts. Seimas elections, just as Constituent Seimas elections, took place only on I-VI districts; X district (Klaipeda region, at the time returned to Republic of Lithuania) were formed for 1926 Seimas elections.
Third Central Electoral Commission was formed on March 12th, 1923 to organize second Lithuanian Seimas elections. For the third consecutive time lawyer Petras Leonas was appointed a commission‘s president position. Members: justice Ministry legal adviser Vladas Macys, Kaunas district court chairman Simonas Petrauskas, Seimas member Kazimieras Jokantas (elected by Lithuanian Farmers ‘union list) and German representative Rudolfas Kinderis (member of the second Seimas, elected by the minority block list, which belonged to German-Russian faction; also the member of the third Seimas, elected by Lithuanian and German Evangelical party list, which belonged to Klaipeda-German faction).
Fourth Central Electoral Commission was formed on March 12th, 1926 to organize third Lithuanian Seimas election. For the fourth consecutive time the professor and Dean of Law Faculty Petras Leonas was appointed a commission‘s president position. Members: Kaunas district court chairman Simonas Petrauskas, the priest canon Kazimieras Saulys and seimas members Kazys Olekas (member of the first and second Seimas; Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party) and Izaokas Rafailas Golcbergas (elected by minority electoral block list; belonged to jewish faction).
Seimas election law amendment (adopted on March 5th, 1926) stated that the Central Election Commission run until the end of the term of the Seimas the commission was formed to elect for. In case of cessation of commission‘s president or its members duties, other people replace their position for the remainder of commission‘s term of office.
Until Seimas elections law amendment (March 5th, 1926) Central Electoral Commission had the power to determine the number of Seimas members. This procedure followed a principle – one member for 25,000 citizens. Therefore, different Seimas had different number of Seimas members. First term Seimas had 79 members, second – 78. Seimas elections law amendment (March 5th, 1926) established the constant number of Seimas members (85).
On April 12th, 1927 Seimas has been released and was not re-elected until 1936. Fifth Central Electoral Commission was formed on May 9th, 1936 to organize fourth Lithuanian Seimas election. New Central Electoral Commission differed from former commissions as it had additional functions (i. e. to maintain and consolidate current government). Council of the State vise-president Boleslovas Masiulis was appointed Commission‘s president position, attorney of the Appeal Chamber Klemensas Arminas – Commission‘s vice-president. Members: notary Jurgis Kubilius, Vytautas Magnus University asociate professor Liudas Vailionis, and ,,Zemes" bank director Vincas Nainys.
1936 Seimas elections law‘s (1936, V.9, no. 533-3704) Article 9 provided a new office post, i. e. Central Electoral Commission's vice-president. It was regulated that the Central Electoral Commission shall consist of the president, his deputy and three members. Commission shall run until the end of term of Seimas it has been designated to organize the elections for. Commission's president, vice-president and members are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania by the provision of Prime Minister. People's Seimas election law (adopted on July 5th, 1940) which purpose was to arrange an electoral farce in an occupied Lithuania employed of the 1936 electoral's law undemocratic provisions, including the procedure of Commission's composition.
Under harsh historical and political conditions (occupation and totalitarian regime) our society could not freely express it‘s will during elections. On November 10-11th, 1940 Communist Party of Lithuania CK Office a) formed a 13 person LTSR election commission for elections to the Supreme Council of the USSR Council of Nationalities, b) ordered city and county party committees to set up regional and district election commissions and present its composition to the Communist Party of Lithuania CK Office and other relevant committees for approval. In accordance with this resolution the temporary SSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and Lithuanian SSR approved the composition of the election commission concluding 10 constituencies for elections to the Supreme council of the Soviet Union and 25 to the Council of Nationalities.
Communist and non-party block was made out of the selected candidates, which was supposed to demonstrate a wide representation of various strata of society. Lithuanian Communist party city and county committees imitated the candidate‘s nomination and registration procedures, controlled electoral commissions' work, organized election campaign and voting processes. Unfortunately, this kind of electoral organization did not keep in line with democratic elections, based on universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.
Such way of forming electoral commissions and organizing „elections" without a choice remained until the last Soviet elections. Proportional electoral system, which ran during interwar period has also been abandoned. Majoritarian electoral system suited totalitarian regime better, as it allowed to effectively mask ,,elections" without a choice. Proportional electoral system was alien to the totalitarian regime as it left an opportunity for the formation of the multiparty system.
First alternative elections to the USSR Supreme Council were held during the revival years. People pursuing Lithuania‘s independence achieved a crushing victory over communist forces.
When the Republic of Lithuania regained its independence the concept of electoral organization and execution undergone considerable adjustments. Lithuanian Republic law „On the Republics of Lithuania Provisional Basic law amendment and supplementation and the title change of the supreme authority (Zin., 1992, no. 22-634) 701 article provided that elections are organized by the Electoral Commissions, which consists of political parties‘ and social political movements‘ representatives.
During the same year for the first time in independency regained Republic of Lithuania Central Electoral Commission was formed by the Lithuanian Republic‘s Supreme Council Resolution ,,On the Central Electoral Commission" (Zin., 1992, no. 23-672). Legislation has established that since 1992 that Central Electoral Commission is being formed (at least 100 days and not more than 130 days before upcoming Seimas elections) by Seimas for four years. Central Electoral Commission‘s composition is clarified after the first meeting of newly elected Seimas. However, before the extraordinary Seimas elections the Central Electoral Commission in not formed.
The Central Electoral Commission is composed of its president; individuals‘, that were recommended by parties and political organizations having mandates in multiconstituency electoral district (one from each party and political organization); three individuals having higher legal education and recommended by Minister of Justice (these three individuals are randomly assigned from a pool of six); three individuals having higher legal education and recommended by Lithuanian Lawyers‘ Association (these three individuals are randomly assigned from a pool of six).
On October 25th, 1992 the Central Electoral Commission has been provided an important place among the democratic state institutions by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. The Central Electoral Commission is constantly functioning supreme institution organizing Seimas, presidential municipal councils elections in the Republic of Lithuania, also organizing referenda, assuring a uniform application of the laws of election and referendum throughout the Republic of Lithuania, responsible for elections‘and referendum the implementation and consolidation to the society.