“It is very serious that in Palermo, without any warning, a large number of seat presidents did not appear for the inauguration, or rather gave up their office, delaying the start of the voting operations. This attitude expresses an absolute lack of respect for the institutions and for the citizens called on this electoral and referendum day to exercise a fundamental constitutional right for the democratic life of the country “. This was stated by the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese. “The Palermo Prosecutor’s Office will assess any liability profiles resulting from the reports sent by the Municipality, responsible for the procedures for setting up seats and replacing presidents”, added Lamorgese.

After weeks of poisons, controversy over Marcello Dell’Utri and Totò Cuffaro convicted of mafia in support of Roberto Lagalla, the arrest of two candidates (Fi and FdI) for political-mafia electoral exchange and the four “unpresentables” of the Antimafia, today the headlights were to be focused only on the opening of the polls with the wait for tomorrow’s counting, at 2 pm. But instead a sensational mess was staged. Without precedents. So much so that there are those who, like the Palermo Bar Association, even call for the cancellation of the elections. And who, like Lega and FdI, puts Minister Luciana Lamorgese on the grill for “bad management”, while the Prosecutor’s Office is evaluating some acquired reports: the crimes that could be expected range from the interruption of public service to the refusal of official documents . What caused chaos to explode was the forfeit of almost a third of the presidents designated in the 600 administrative seats, in conjunction with the expected home game of Palermo with Padova for the promotion to Serie B which was “sold out”. Yesterday at the opening of the sections for the preliminary operations it was discovered that 174 presidents had given up, while in many sections the ballot papers were delivered 3-4 hours late, sending the preliminary operations haywire. An unexpected race against time has started to replace the presidents: throughout the night the Municipality and the Prefecture have jumped through hoops to avoid the worst; the traffic police have been mobilized, the municipal administration has even launched an appeal to everyone, derogating from the provisions that provide for the selection of presidents from a special register, having to have some characteristics in order to be able to receive the approval of the Court of Appeal. In the seats that remained vacant, the tellers remained ‘hostage’ until 2 am in the hope that the substitute-president would arrive; in 64 were found just before midnight, for the others the search went long and beyond the terms of the law. In fact, while most of the polling stations this morning, at 7, opened their doors to voters, in the rest of the sections without president a pandemonium has occurred. Hundreds of voters found their doors closed and were invited by the tellers to come back later in the day in anger and amazement. In reality, the mess could have been avoided: on Friday afternoon the Municipality had asked the Associations of Lawyers and Chartered Accountants for help to replace the “deserters”, even if the real race against time started only yesterday after 16, when the case exploded in its evidence. It will be up to the investigators to ascertain how many waivers have been communicated, albeit close to the voting operations, and if they have been adequately motivated and how many presidents in charge have instead given up without any communication. To aggravate the situation would have been the hacker attack suffered by the Municipality of Palermo in recent days which would have sent haywire even the receipt of emails via pec. Some presidents in charge would have informed the waiver in time, but the email would not have reached the municipality. “With the decisive match for the promotion of Palermo scheduled for tonight at 9.15 pm – say some representatives of the list – it was absolutely predictable what would happen, but the Prefecture not only took steps to postpone the game, but did not even think of a plan b” . Faced with requests for an extension of the vote until Monday – made during the day by many including Matteo Salvini (Lega), Ignazio La Russa (FdI) and the governor of Sicily Nello Musumeci – the Viminale first excluded the derogation, then sent a note to the Prefecture asking for the immediate unification of the sections without presidents to the operational ones, also clarifying that the voters who will be inside the polling stations will be able to vote even after 11 pm (expected closing time). The turning point came around 1pm. First it was the Interior Ministry that communicated that the situation was starting to ‘normal’, then the Prefecture and the Municipality announced that they had completed the replacement of the renounced presidents in all the seats that had remained uncovered and that therefore it would not have been necessary to unification indicated by the ministry. The omelette, however, was now done. There are many complaints in police stations and in carabinieri stations made by simple voters; the Municipality has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor against the renouncing presidents. And after tomorrow’s counting with the indicative result in mid-scrutiny, it seems probable that the losers will have recourse to stamped papers in the courtrooms. Worse than this, the post-Leoluca Orlando era could not open up.