Meløy municipality’s mayoral candidate “helped” an elderly woman with the electoral roll – NRK Nordland

Meløy municipality’s mayoral candidate “helped” an elderly woman with the electoral roll – NRK Nordland

The election is near. Many boroughs are tight and mayoral candidates are working hard to garner votes.

Ken-Henri Solhach is currently the deputy mayor of Venstre, but aims to become mayor after the election.

Like everyone else, he goes door to door and collects votes.

At the end of August, he knocked on the door of an elderly woman with a cognitive disability – and handed her the complete list for the Liberal Party.

About 6,000 people live in the municipality of Meloy. Today, the Labor Party, Conservative Party and Liberal Party are in power in the municipality.

Photo: Kristin Eide Holdall

Here, among others, his own name and that of two party colleagues were interspersed up and down the list.

In addition, two candidates were nominated from the coalition parties Høyre and Arbeiderpartiet.

NRK has seen the picture of the ballot paper received by the woman.

Mayoral candidate Solhach says he was asked to help fill out the ballot.

– This is done in good faith, in a good group, and if someone asks me to help, he tells NRK.

Relatives react to the practice

Relatives of the elderly woman told NRK that she came to visit on Wednesday evening.

– There was an electoral roll on the table then. It came from the left.

The relative says the old lady must have been confused.

– She said that he (Solhak) came to the door and was very busy. He is said to have given the completed list to the Municipal Council Mayor.

The Liberal Party mayoral candidate is said to have been very busy and moved quickly.

– I am very confused. “Are you doing that?” That’s what I thought, the old woman tells NRK.

The relative reacts strongly to the procedure.

– They take advantage of the elderly in vulnerable situations. She is very uncertain and confused. I can feel myself getting irritated and angry.

NRK asks the old woman what she thinks about the practice.

– I don’t think it’s right. Politicians should not behave like that.

At first he refused – now he lies on his face

NRK is in contact with mayoral candidate Solhaug. He denies having distributed the completed list.

– I did not fill any ballot papers. If someone asks me for advice, I have a note in my pocket when they ask me for advice.

– So you didn’t provide the signed list?

– No, Solhawk said first.

Portrait of mayoral candidate Ken-Henri Solhach at Méloy Venstre.

Ken-Henri Solhach is the mayoral candidate for Venstre in Mello. He denies handing out pre-filled lists to voters he visits, but admits to helping a couple fill out their preferences.

Photo: Meli Venstre

After sending a picture of the signature on the ballot to NRK, Solhak admitted that he was the one who filled out the voter list. But he says it was at the request of the person he visited.

– I admit it and apologize. No doubt I wrote that list. You should lie still. But I was asked to do it, says Solhach.

I have to count the votes myself

In the middle of the election campaign, Meloy was involved in a tragic boating accident that claimed the lives of two teenagers in the municipality. That is why the Liberal Party has chosen not to campaign.

Instead, time has been spent knocking on people’s doors and handing out party programs and election lists.

– Again and again, the elderly ask if they can help you. “It’s very common for people to ask us in,” Solhag says.

The mayoral candidate says he’s happy to offer suggestions on what people should vote for, but he refuses to put pen to paper.

– We are above all a small herd, and as the leader member, you are thus engaged in counting.

However, the mayoral candidate says that a mistake has been made here.

Melee Town Hall.

It will become clear in a few days who will take power at the town hall in Ørnes in the municipality of Meloy.

Photo: Caspar Holkerson

– I have helped at most two people and given around 1,500 listings.

Solhach claims that confused, elderly people were knowingly and intentionally not given ballots.

– If that happened, I apologize. I prefer to do it directly to relatives.

He says he’s giving back to many in the community – and it’s important to him that everyone has the chance to vote for the party of their choice.

– For example, I deliver to people with mental disabilities in the letterbox, because I want to treat them equally.

Election Inspector:- Not illegal but unethical

Solhac says that previously it was customary for parties to distribute completed lists in the municipality.

Other local politicians in Meli that NRK spoke to confirm this.

Johannes Berg, an election researcher at the Institute for Social Research, has responded.

Johannes Berg

Election analyst Johannes Berg said the practice of handing over completed lists was not illegal, but problematic.

Photo: William Jobling / NRK

– It’s problematic if that happened, but it’s not illegal.

– Why is it complicated?

Because Norway has secret and free elections. So voting is problematic for influence and indirect or direct pressure.

He doesn’t think the practice is very widespread, but Berg has heard of similar cases in the past.

– I remember a case in Oslo, where voters with a migrant background handed in completed lists without knowing much about the electoral system, he adds:

– but unless you’re coercing someone, it’s not strictly speaking illegal. But this is problematic and unethical.

– As a politician, are you allowed to help people fill out lists?

– They’re allowed to do that, but I think it’s going a little too far. People may be encouraged to vote for their party, but individual votes remain with each voter. The question is which one is right.

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