One of the Hungarian "campaign experts" explained the other day that there is campaign silence everywhere in the world. Even in the United States, he added. He explained what he meant: in the United States on the day of the elections in front of the polling stations representatives of different parties (or in the case of local elections normally the candidates themselves) must stand at least ten meters away from the building. Well, I wouldn’t call that campaign silence. In the meantime on election day party activists keep tabs on who has voted and who hasn’t, phone people and urge them to go to the polls. They offer rides to people who have difficulties reaching the polling stations. All these activities are illegal in Hungary. In the United States mobilization of the electorate is the main aim: getting out the vote, as it is called.
State laws vary somewhat, but basically in order to vote you first have to register. Each community has an elected offficial who is in charge of the registration of voters. Normally you have three choices: you can register as a republican, as a democrat, or as an independent. This way the two parties have a fair idea of their popular bases and have a pretty accurate list of their likely supporters. This is what seems to be missing in Hungary. In my opinion, the absence of lists of supporters must make mobilization of the electorate very difficult. So parties cheat, and I am not even surprised that they do. Campaigns are expensive, and it is a waste of time and money to send campaign literature to people who will throw leaflets straight into the wastepaper basket or who will slam down the telephone as soon as they hear the wrong voice at the other end of the line.
I remember the outcry during the last two elections when Fidesz activists, usually pairs of young people, went from apartment to apartment and made notes on their reception. Meanwhile the worried anti-Fidesz inhabitants watched the youngsters with great suspicion. They feared that something terrible would happen to them if the Fidesz won the elections. That’s why I think that it would be a great deal better to gather this information openly. Secrecy gives rise to suspicion. Not a good thing.
Tomorrow the polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. During the day, one will be able to follow the percentage of eligible voters who have cast their votes by a certain time. One can follow the progress here: http://www.valasztas.hu/main_hu.html
Meanwhile we can all guess how many people will show up and how many "yes" votes there will be.