History of the CEC

The Composition of Central Electoral Commission since 1992 (updated on November 8th, 2018): 

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Year 2019 marks a 100th anniversary of the formation of the first election organizing institution in the Independent Republic of Lithuania – Central Constituent Electoral Commission (now Central Electoral Commission). Due to the political and historical context the name of the institution has been constantly changing, however its founding purpose and objectives remained the same, i.e., to organize and conduct Seimas elections of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as the presidential and municipal council elections and referenda since 1992. 

At the end of 1919, Republic's foreign and domestic situation has stabilized. It was a favorable time to initiate Constituent Assembly elections. On 16 June 1919 a commission was set up to draw up a draft of Constituent Seimas Electoral law, which was passed on 30 October 1919. Thus, the legal basis for the first democratic elections in the independent Lithuania was established. 

On 10 December 1919 the first institution responsible for the organization and conduct of the Constituent Seimas elections was set up – the Central Electoral Commission. Petras Leonas (1922–1933) was appointed to be the first Chairman, he was a famous lawyer, the Minister of Justice of the 1st and 2nd cabinet, later – the 4th minister of the Interior Affairs, dean of the faculty of law. Appointed commission members: a judge Vladas Mačys, a priest and a signatory of 16 February act Kazimieras Šaulys, a Jewish representative and a lawyer Levas Garfunkelis (an elected candidate of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Seimas) and a lawyer Aloyzas Bžozovskis. 

Article 8 of the Lithuanian Constituent Seimas' Electoral law (passed on 30 October 1919) stated, that the following commissions were established to organize and manage the elections of Constituent Seimas: a) the Central Electoral Commission, b) constituency committees and c) committees of the polling districts. Article 9 coordinated the internal structure of the Central Electoral Commission: the commission is composed of a chairman and four members, who were suggested by the government and appointed by the President. Article 11 of the law established the functions of the Central Electoral Commission: to supervise the whole procedure, adopt instructions and explanations, appoint chairmen of constituencies, discuss complaints about constituency committee's resolution, establish the list of all elected representatives to Constituent Seimas and announce it for everyone to know, manage state funds appropriated for elections and determine the number of representatives of each constituency committee. The law established, that the appointed chairman of the constituency committee shall be one of the justices of the peace or a member of the constituency. In principle, this regulation also remained in the Seimas Electoral law of 19 July 1922. On 10 October 1920, it was decided that the salary paid to the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission is 3000 gold coins per month, and each member gets 75 coins per each attended meeting. When compared to the other civil servant salaries at the time, such amount of money is rather symbolic – to compensate the potential financial losses while fulfilling the Central Electoral Commission duties. For example, the head of the government gets 6000 gold coins, the minister – 4500. 

On 12 January 1920, the electoral commission announced the election of the Constituent Seimas to be held on 14–15 of April 1920. The Election Law included the Vilnius region (at the time occupied by Poland), Klaipėda region, separated from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, but not yet a part of Lithuania. Even though that for the provided eleven election constituencies, which connect 3–4 counties and comprise the ethnographic territory of Lithuania, were assigned 229 places of Constituent Seimas, in reality the elections could have been held in six election constituencies and 112 representatives could have been elected: VII–X constituencies were set up for the main part of Vilnius governate (at the time a part of Poland). In accordance with the law, the elections held in the region of Klaipėda, which was not yet a part of Lithuania, could be separated, in this way Lithuania showed that still considers it a part of its territory.   

The second electoral commission was set up in 1922 to elect a new Seimas of Republic of Lithuania. As a chairman is appointed Petras Leonas, members: a lawyer Vladas Mačys, a Jewish representative B. Fridmanas, a member of the Constituent Seimas Kazimieras Jokantas, selected by Lithuanian Farmers Union.  

The Electoral Law (19 July 1922) is practically the same as the Constituent Assembly one. For the election were prepared nine election constituencies, which were separated into polling districts. Just like the elections of the Constituent Assembly, the elections were held only in the I–VI constituencies. In 1926 for the Seimas elections the X constituency was created, which was located in the Klaipėda region (returned to the Lithuania). 

The third Central Electoral Commission was set up on 23 March 1923 to elect the second Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. As a chairman, for the third time in a row, was appointed Petras Leonas, members – the legal adviser of Minister of Justice Vladas Mačys, President of the Court of Justice of Kaunas constituency Simonas Petrauskas, a member of Seimas Kazimieras Jokantas and a german representative Rudolfas Kinderis. 

The fourth Central Electoral Commission was organized on 12 March 1923 to elect the second Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. For the fourth time, a chairman – Petras Leonas, members – a President of the Court of Justice of Kaunas constituency Simonas Petrauskas, a priest Kazimieras Šaulys and members of Seimas Kazys (Kazimieras) Olekas and Izaokas Rafailas Golcbergas.  

A change of the Election Law of Seimas, which was adopted on 5 March 1926, meant that Central Electoral Commission retains its powers until Seimas' term of the office ends. When the chairman of the commission and its members are not able to carry their duties, the others are appointed for the rest of the commission's term of the office.  

Until the change of the Seimas' Election Law (adopted on 5 March 1926), Central Electoral Commission had the power to determine the number of members of Seimas. In order to determine it, the commission had to follow the principle – one member for 25 000 citizens. That is why the number of member of Seimas varied: in the first Seimas – 79 members, the second – 78. The new law established the constant number – 85 members.  

On 12 April 1927 Seimas was dismissed and the new one was not elected until 9 May 1936, when the fifth Central Electoral Commission was set up to elect the fourth Seimas of Republic of Lithuania. The new Electoral Commission was different from the previous ones, because its function was to support and secure the current government. For the chairman position was appointed Boleslovas Masiulis (the vise-chairman of the State Council of Lithuania), vice-chairman – Klemensas Arminas (attorney of the Appeal Chamber), members – notary Jurgis Kubilius, Vytautas Magnus University associate professor Liudas Vailionis, and a director of "Žemės" bank Vincas Nainys. 

In 1936 the Article 9 of Seimas Election Law has determined the vice-chairman's job description. It was regulated that the Central Electoral Commission is composed of a chairman, vice-chairman and three members. The Electoral Commission retains its powers until Seimas' term of the office ends. The chairman, vice-chairman and three members are appointed by the President of the Republic on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Election Law of People's Seimas, adopted on 5 July 1940, there were used most of the 1936 non-democratic provisions to prepare the election in the occupied Lithuania, including the procedure of Commission's composition. 

During the period of occupation and totalitarian regime, the society did not have a freedom of speech during elections. On 10–11 November 1940, CK Office of the Communist Party of Lithuania created a Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic's (LSSR) electoral commission composed of 13 people for the election to the Soviet Union's the Supreme Council of the USSR Council of Nationalities and ordered city and county committees of the parties to set up constituency and polling district electoral commissions and present their composition for the approval to the CK Office. The temporal presidium of the LSSR approved the composition of LSSR electoral commission and set up 10 constituencies for the election of the Soviet Union's Supreme Council of the USSR Council of Nationalities and 25 for – Council of Nationalities. From the selected candidates there was created a communist and a non-party unit, which was supposed to demonstrate the wide representation of different groups of people. The city and constituency committees of the Lithuanian communist parties imitated the nomination and registration of the candidates, controlled the commission's activity, organized electoral campaigns and the voting. Unfortunately, the elections organized in such way are not democratic, based on universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. This method of organizing electoral committees and "elections" remained until the last Soviet elections. Also, the proportional electoral system, which was active during the time of inter-war, was cancelled. The plurality voting system suited the totalitarian regime better, as it allowed to effectively mask the "elections" without an actual choice. The proportional electoral system (the mandates are classified according to the number of received votes), was not familiar to the totalitarian regime, because it allowed the creation of alternative voting lists and the formation of multi-party system. 

During the time of national revival, the first alternative elections to the Soviet Union Supreme Council were set up. These elections ended up being the massive win for those who sought a Lithuanian independence.  

When Lithuania regained its independence, the concept of organizing and conducting of the elections was restored and corrected. In 1992 Article 70 of the Republic of Lithuania Law "On the Republics of Lithuania Provisional Basic law amendment and supplementation and the title change of the supreme authority" stated that the elections are organized by the electoral commissions, which are composed of political parties and political movements' representatives. During the same year, by the resolution of Lithuanian Republic's Supreme Council "On the Central Electoral Commission" the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania was set up for the first time since the regained independence. The legal acts stated, that since 1992 the Seimas shall set up the Central Electoral Commission before early elections to the Seimas. After the first Seimas meeting, the composition of the commission is specified, however before the extraordinary elections of the Seimas the CEC is not set up. The Central Electoral Commission shall be composed of the Commission Chairman; political parties and political organizations which have received mandates of the Seimas members in the multi-member constituency shall each have the right to nominate one representative to the Central Electoral Commission from one list of candidates (joint list) nominated in the multi-member constituency; three people (out of six nominated candidates by the Minister of Justice) with the university law degree who are being chosen by drawing lots; three people (out of six nominated candidates by the Lithuanian Bar Association.) with the university law degree who are being chosen by drawing lots. 

On 25 October 1992 the constitution of Lithuanian Republic has given an important place to the CEC next to the other democratic state institutions. The Central Electoral Commission is a constantly functioning supreme institution, which organizes the elections of Seimas, the President, municipal councils and referenda. It is also responsible for one of the most important democratic institutions' – elections and referendums – implementation and consolidation into society. 

In 2002 the legal status, tasks, powers, principles of activities, as well as the procedure of the establishment, work organization and financing of the Central Electoral Commission was being regulated by the separate legal act – the Law of the Central Electoral Commission. This law repeated the main procedures of the CEC establishment, which were set out in the law of Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and the law of election of the President of the Republic of Lithuania. 

In 2013 this law was changed. The procedure of the CEC establishment was corrected. Article 7 stated, that the Seimas shall set up the Central Electoral Commission no later than 200 days and no earlier than 140 days after regular or early elections to the Seimas. 

The new legal act stated that the Central Electoral Commission shall be composed of: 1) the Commission Chairman; 2) two persons with the university law degree who are nominated by the Minister of Justice and appointed by the Seimas by secret ballot; 3) two persons with the university law degree who are nominated by the Lithuanian Bar Association and appointed by the Seimas by secret ballot; 4) two persons with the university law degree who are nominated by the President of the Republic and appointed by the Seimas by secret ballot; 5) the persons nominated by the parties which have received mandates of the Seimas members in the multi-member constituency, where such persons have the university law degree and the experience of working in electoral committees. 

Prior to the formation of the Central Electoral Commission, the parties (coalitions) which have received mandates of the Seimas members in the multi-member constituency shall each have the right to nominate one representative to the Central Electoral Commission from one list of candidates (joint list) nominated in the multi-member constituency. If the representatives nominated by the parties meet the requirements specified in point 5 of paragraph 3 of this Article and Article 6 of this Law, the Seimas may not reject the nominees. 

In all cases, persons appointed to the Central Electoral Commission from among the candidates nominated by the Minister of Justice, the President of the Republic and the Lithuanian Bar Association must make up not less than the number of Central Electoral Commission members nominated by the political parties (coalitions). If the number of such persons is smaller, the number of the members of the Commission shall be increased in equal numbers from among the candidates nominated by the Minister of Justice and the Lithuanian Bar Association. 

Upon the recommendation of the Seimas Speaker, the Seimas shall appoint the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission. The Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission as well as the members thereof appointed to the Commission by nomination of the Minister of Justice, the President of the Republic and the Lithuanian Bar Association, must suspend their membership in any party of which they are members, and may not take part in the activities thereof during the period of their work on the Central Electoral Commission.  

On 22 May 2017 the CEC was set up for the first time according to the mentioned procedure.