Hackers, IT problems disrupt Polish local elections

Poland’s president on Wednesday sought to calm a row over key weekend local and regional elections after computer glitches left the final tally up in the air.

Exit polls in the Sunday vote, seen as a test for the centre-right government ahead of next year’s general election, showed voters handing a surprise victory to the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) opposition.

But final results have not yet been released due to repeated crashes by the PKW national election commission’s servers.

“We cannot allow for the integrity of the ballot to be called into question, namely through calls for the elections to be repeated. That’s complete madness,” said President Bronislaw Komorowski.

He pledged after discussing the matter with justice officials that the votes would be counted “honestly”.

As media and politicians accused the election commission of errors in the run up to the ballot, Justice Minister Cezary Grabarczyk told broadcaster TVN24 that “there is reason to worry.”

The private company responsible for the IT vote count won by default a public tender held for the contract three months before the ballot as it was the only bidder.

Local IT experts insist it takes at least three months to put a reliable system in place and Grabarczyk said: “I would not have used a system that was not up and running just a week ahead of the vote.”

Exit polls showed PiS scoring 31.4 percent of the vote compared to 27.3 percent for the centrist Civic Platform, in power since 2007.

Electoral commission website DDoSed, hacked

Officials in Poland say computer hackers have attacked the website of the country’s electoral commission, which is still unable to publish full returns from local elections because of an unrelated computer glitch.

The State Electoral Commission says while the website hacking incident didn’t add further difficulties to the vote counting process, it ordered its officials to change their passwords Wednesday.

But the problems have undermined the credibility of Sunday’s vote, which has been seen as a test of strength for new Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz before next year’s general election.

Exit polls suggested a win for the opposition Law and Justice party in provincial assemblies, but the official returns for the assemblies were still unknown Wednesday, after the computer system failed, forcing a count by hand in some places.

Reports from Sapa-AFP and Sapa-AP

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Hackers, IT problems disrupt Polish local elections