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Preliminary report from CIS-EMO mission. The first turn of presidential election, January 17th, 2010, Ukraine.

There is published the preliminary report from CIS-EMO mission of the first turn of presidential election, January 17th, 2010, Ukraine.

            The international election monitoring mission that took place during the presidential election of January, 17th was conducted by Commonwealth of Independent States Election Monitoring Organization (CIS-EMO). Among the members of this organization there are many respectable persons with wide experience in the area of the protection of citizens’ electoral and civil rights.

            The following report was created on the basis of the observations made by the participants of mission, which were present in Ukraine and were given an accreditation by the Central Election Committee of Ukraine.
            The participants of Commonwealth of Independent States Election Monitoring Organization (CIS-EMO) want to express their deepest gratitude towards Central Election Committee of Ukraine for all the support given.
            The Commonwealth of Independent States Election Monitoring Organization (CIS-EMO) mission was performing a short-term monitoring of the electoral procedures, the counting of the votes and stating the results of the election of January 17th, 2010 election.
            The total number of 259 people from Russian Federation, Belarus, Kyrgistan, Armenia, Poland, and France participated in the short-term mission.
            The following report contains the valuation of the presidential election’s objection to Ukrainian state law and fulfillment of international democratic electoral standards. The conclusions that follow are preliminary and concern only the first turn of the election that has already took place. The final valuation will depend on the development of further electoral process, including counting of the votes and the announcement of the results, as well as taking possible complaints under consideration, made after the first turn of the election. Eight weeks after the end of the whole electoral process, the final and full report will be given. It will contain recommendations considering possibilities of the improvement of the election process.

I.                   General conclusions

In the elections of 17th January, 2010 took the part number of 18 candidates, who had passed a generally liberal registration procedure. This fact provided voters with a real choice. Nevertheless, a number of important drawbacks which emerged during the electoral process limited the possibility of leading the full-scale electoral campaign. While all of the candidates had equal possibility to transmit their views to the voters, there may be noticed a poor activity of most candidates’ campaign. It may lead to conclusion about a kind of “cooperation” between some of the candidates, or about their “technical” role in the electoral process.
Among the disadvantages there may be mentioned a phenomenon of influence of the candidates which at the same time currently wield power in Ukrainian state on the electoral process. For example, during Yulia Timoshenko’s visit to Lvov, the local militia controlled the process of removing Victor Yushchenko’s billboards hanging close to the Timoshenko’s way, even though all those advertisements were paid for. Moreover, there were noticed some situations, when council administration and other local government buildings were used to keeping the New Year gifts from Yulia Timoshenko. The majority of the candidates performing important posts - Yushchenko, Timoshenko, Litvin (speaker of the parliament) misused their power during their visits to different regions of Ukraine.    
What is more, Yulia Timoshenko issued a governmental ruling ordering militia to check every case of every voter’s will to vote at home. In the case of inability to match all the legal requirements, such voter should be deprived of the possibility to vote at home. The problem is that such rulings should be issued not by the government, but by the Central Election Committee. The situation described above may serve as an example of direct influence of executive power on the election process.
The media generally fulfilled their legal duty of providing candidates with possibility to present their programme in media freely of charge. Nevertheless, the most of the candidates wielding power – Yushchenko, Timoshenko, Litvin – used the in media not to inform citizens about their work, but simply to agitate them.
The electoral process took place on the legal basis of The Act of Elections with some amendments introduced after the presidential elections of 2005. While some of the amendments became a step forward, the necessity of further improvements still exists.
On the whole, Central Election Committee secured the transparency of the electoral process in the period preceding the election. Central Election Committee conducted plenary meetings on the regular basis and agreed on a number of solutions leading to the improvement of the electoral process. The CIS-EMO observers were generally provided an access to the electoral committees of every level. Moreover, Central Election Committee conducted a wide-scale information campaign for citizens. Nevertheless, the cases of insufficient information about the legal procedures caused some confusion.
Nothing seriously disturbed the voting. However, there were revealed some cases of bribery of the voters, multiple voting by one person, voting in the name of the other person, group or family voting, putting filled ballot papers,and insufficient sealing of ballot boxes during election. In some places, there were noticed cases of forcing students to vote for a particular candidate (students had to prove that they vote for the right candidate by showing a photocopy of the “correctly-filled” ballot paper). In the vast majority of polling stations, the lists of voters contained serious mistakes. In some polling stations there were fixed some cases of placement of the names of people without the necessary documents in the additional voters’ lists. In some cases, citizens were not provided their right to vote.
The process of finalizing the election went without any delays or problems. There was no information about polling stations which were closed earlier than they should. According to legal acts, polling stations were closed at 20 p.m., but all the citizens present inside the station at this time still have a right to vote. A number of procedure violations was also fixed, including lack of one of the members of local election committee on the ballot papers. The votes were re-counted, because of the mistakes which occurred during the first counting of the votes. The reason why this event took place was the tiredness of the members of the local election committee, who spent more than 13 hours working at the polling station. 
 
  1. The legal basis

The main legal basis of conducting the Ukrainian presidential election were the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law “On the Election of the President of Ukraine”, as well as rulings issued by Central Election Committee.
According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine is elected for the term of five years by the citizens of Ukraine on the basis of equal and direct electoral right, during the secret election. The participation of Ukrainian citizen in the election is facultative and free. No one has a right to force a Ukrainian citizen to participate or not to participate in the election, or disturb to express his or her will.
According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the presidential election is appointed by the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine. The Supreme Soviet of Ukraine issues a legal act about the appointment of the election of the President of Ukraine. The decision about the appointment of the elections has to be officially published in mass media.
Ukrainian citizens who have right to vote are able to propose a candidate on the post of the President of Ukraine. This right is executed through political parties and electoral blocks, as well as individually (the procedure is described in the legal acts). Every party or block has a right to propose only one candidate for the post of the President of Ukraine.
The only sources of funds spent on the preparation and execution of the election of the President of Ukraine may be the Ukraine’s State Budget and candidates for the President of Ukraine own funds.
The presidential election is held in single state one-mandate constituency, which covers all of the area of Ukraine.
During the election process, Ukraine is being divided into 225 territorial constituencies. The number of constituencies is the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, regions, the cities of Kiev and Sevastopol are fixed by the Central Election Committee. It should consider their administrative and territorial structure, and a number of its population on the base on the data received from the governmental executive institution responsible for statistics. One territorial constituency includes one or more regions, cities, or housing estates in the cities.
To conduct the election of the President of Ukraine and count the votes, the territory of villages, посёлок and housing estates which are parts of the territorial constituency, are divided into polling station areas.
 
The election of the President of Ukraine is conducted by:
1)      The Central Election Committee
2)      regional election committees
3)      polling stations’ election committees
 
Regional electoral committee is created by the Central Election Committee not later than 50  days before the election and consists of the president, the president’s deputy, the secretary, and the other members (their number must not be lower than 12).
The candidates for the members of the regional election committees (two members of every election committee from every candidate) are being proposed by the candidates for the post of the President of Ukraine, which have registered in the Central Election Committee. The candidates for members of regional committees are being proposed not later than 54 days before the election by the choice of the candidate of the president proved by his or her signature, or the signature of his or her official representative in the Central Election Committee.
The polling station’s election committee is created by proper regional election committee not later than 26 days before election. It consists of the president, the president’s deputy, the secretary and the other members (their number must not be lower than 12).
The candidates for the President of Ukraine have the right to propose candidates for the ordinary polling stations’ election committees, as well as their equivalents created in hospitals and penitentiaries.   The candidates for members of polling station election committees are being proposed not later than 34 days before the election by the choice of the official representative of the candidate of the president proved by his or her signature.
 Pre-eliminary lists of the voters are made according to a scheme provided by the Central Election Committee, in two paper copies. Every page of the list should be signed by the chairman of the proper institution responsible for the State Voters Registration. This signature should be confirmed by the stamp of this institution.
The citizens of Ukraine, who are eighteen year-old or more, have a right to vote, and whose address is on the territory covered by the polling station are included in the preliminary list of voters. The voter may be entered on the list of only one polling station.
The institution responsible for the State Voters’ Registration has to provide regional election committees with the two paper copies of preliminary voters lists not later than 30 days before the election.
 
  1. The administrative process and its problems

On the territory of Ukraine there are 225 Territorial Constituencies and one foreign constituency. The borders of some of the constituencies have been re-marked since the last presidential election according to the changes in the demographical situation and changes in the number of voters in administrative and territorial units. There should be underlined that while during the previous election, when the constituencies had been created on the basis of proportional number of voters, this time they were created on the basis of proportional number of polling stations, which is a violation of article 29 point 3 of the law. This led to imparity in voters’ deployment in polling stations. It means that the number of polling stations in one constituency may be equal, while the number of voters in constituencies may be significantly different. As a result, there appeared a problem of uneven partition of work that had to be done by different polling stations election committees.
            The process of the creation of the network of the polling stations election committees was fully entrusted to the candidates for the President of Ukraine – in every committee there were two representatives from each of the candidates. Having in mind that in Ukraine there are 35 thousand polling stations, every candidate should have at least 70 thousands representatives to fill his or quotas. All 18 candidates should propose 1,260,000 members of polling stations’ election committees. Actually, only two candidates – Victor Yanukovich and Yulia Timoshenko – managed to draw near this number.
            What is more, some interesting tendencies could be noticed. For example, among candidates Protivvsekh, Ratushnyak, Brodskiy, Suprun, who almost do not have any human resources at all, managed to fill majority of their quotas in Western Ukraine. According to our observation, Protivvsekh, Ratushnyak, and Brodskiy’s quotas were filled by people from Victor Yanukovich’s staff, and Lyudmila Suprun’s quotas by people from Yulia Timoshenko’s staff. Moreover, in Lvov Region Sergey Tihipko and Petro Simonenko’s quotas were partially filled by people from Yulia Timoshenko’s staff.
            The events given above may justify a conclusion that “technical” candidates, or those, who try to gain some profits from the electoral process, provide major candidates a possibility of influencing the electoral process through their representatives in election committees.
            This way the imperfection of election law mentioned above (article 24 point 2) causes a phenomena of rotation, substitution, and additional cooptation in consist of polling station committees. Every phenomenon has its own causes.
 
            Rotations of members of polling stations’ election committees (in other words, moving one person from one committee into another) have two probable causes. Firstly, it may be a result of distribution of quotas of leading posts in committees among subjects of electoral process. When the candidates’ staffs were proposing their candidates for polling stations’ election committees, they made remarks about their will to appoint chairmen, deputies, or secretaries or just regular members of particular committees. As a result of draw, candidates quite often got their quotas for leading posts where they did not want to and did not get them where they wanted to. In such cases, after the draw and the distribution, often staffs of different candidates performed different kind of rotation: people, who were firstly suggested as potential chairmen, deputies or secretaries of the committees, but, as a result of a draw, did not manage to take a leading post were moved to those committees, where particular candidates’ representatives got the leading posts by a chance. Secondly, this process was mutually beneficial both for candidates’ staffs and regional committees, because both sides wanted people with some previous electoral experience to take leading posts in the committees. About 7% of all members participated in such rotations.
 
            Substitutions of polling stations’ members had another nature. During the terms stated in the proper law acts, the candidate’s staff sends to a regional committee a list of his or her people who are proposed for a work in polling stations’ election committees. A considerable part of people from this list do not even have an idea of having their names included on one of such lists and membership of a committee. When such a case becomes discovered, the staff substitutes such a person with another. It may happen several times – until a “real” member of a committee becomes a member of a committee. This situation is comfortable for the staff (or the person who is responsible for cadres in polling stations’ committees) – in such situation, the representative of the candidate is being paid only for a period when he performed his duties, for example not for a month, but only for a week or for a few days, including the day of the election itself. Moreover, one should mention the cases of insufficient wages for members of the committees or the cases of not paying members of the committees at all (there are specific examples of such situations from the election in 2006).
            The other reason of such a phenomenon may be a will of taking control over committees in the day of the election. According to the article 28 point 5, the session of the committee is valid when not less than two thirds of the committee’s members are present. Candidate who do not see any chance of gaining any satisfactory result in a constituency may enter the fictional members on the list of his representatives to postpone the announcement of the results of voting or even to obstruct it. Candidates presume that a voter would not visit a closed polling station for a second time.
            Talking about substitutions of the members of polling stations’ election committees, one should take under consideration another factors – illness, duty journey, or simple lack of will of continuing the work in the committee.
 
                Additional cooptation of members of polling station election committee by the chairman of the regional committee. He is the person responsible for securing that on the day of the election there should be a minimal number of the members (12) necessary for the work of every committee of regional and polling station level. In the case of lack of representatives, he may ask trade unions, Non-Governmental Organizations, political parties, school headmasters etc. for help in completion of the committees in the area he is responsible for. There may appear an impression that the chairman of regional election committee, which is a representative of one of the candidates, is able to misuse this right to help the candidate who proposed him or her. In reality a candidate may use this possibility only when his candidate has available human resources to fill all of the quota, and has also some additional people who may be introduced in committees by his representative on the post of a chairman of a regional election committee. From the point of view of statistics, it is hardly possible. The candidate’s representative on the post of the chairman of the regional committee’s priority is to secure the normal and untroubled start and duration of the electoral process. Representing his patron’s interests is less important in his or her situation.
            On the whole, during the electoral process from 15% to 20% of the members of polling stations’ election committees (depending on a region) were substituted. This did not lead to improvement of the committees’ performance.

            The organization of a polling station

            The vast majority of polling stations match the standards described in proper law acts and the Central Election Committee demands. However, there should be mentioned a poor preparation for the election in the Winter season. In the case of many (mostly rural) polling stations there is lack of heating, what makes the conditions of work of the committees much harder. Moreover, a number of cases when the legal regulations of the polling station performance were not fulfilled: the area of a small polling station (for a number of voters which do not exceed 500) it should not be smaller than 50 square meters; medium polling station (from 500 to 1500 voters) – should not be smaller than 75 square meters; big polling stations (over 1500 voters) – should not be smaller than 90 square meters (article 74 point 3).
            Material and technical support of the electoral process belongs to the temporal frames of different financial years. The electoral process begins in 2009 year, and ends in 2010 year. This situation caused a problem with the financial support of the election, because the budget for the year 2010 is still not ready. According to the information gathered, some of the regional election committees got the financial resources only for 2009 year, while is still unknown how much money and when they are to be paid for their performance in the year 2010. Some of the polling stations’ committees did not get any financial resources at all. Their performance was based purely on its members’ enthusiasm and commitment.

            The voters’ lists

            The lists of voters contained many mistakes. As a rule, the mistakes are caused by the lack of will of voters themselves to check the occurrence of their names on the lists, and the process of rapid and uncontrolled migration that is very difficult to follow. Another objective reason that in not less important, is improper performance of some workers of the committees. Mistakes repeat again and again during several elections. Some of the lists have not been checked for the last 3 years. As a result, many deceased are included, while living are not (or occur under names which have been changed long time ago).

III The day of the election

The system violations

Even though in the vast majority of cases the polling stations elections committees were completed and the number of their members was sufficient (not less than 12), there were some single cases of lack of necessary majority on the day of the election. For example, Regional Election Committee TIO No. 91 (Belotserkovskyi Area of the Kiev Region) decided to exclude members of 28 different polling station election committees proposed by some candidates, most often by Victor Yanukovich, V. Protivvsekh, S. Ratushnyak, M. Brodsky. On January, 16th new members were included. They eventually turned out to be fictional and did not appear on the day of election. This fact lead to lack of possibility to open polling stations on time because of the absence of the majority needed.
On the day of the election on some polling stations on some ballot papers a remark “resigned” was placed beside the names of some of the candidates. For example, in Sumy Region a total number of more than 8000 ballot papers were damaged this way (the remark “resigned” was placed beside the name of the candidate A. Gritsenko). The same situation took place in Nikolaev Region (UIK No 158, TIO 132, Ochakovskiy Area, Ostrovka). A total number of 596 ballot papers were damaged there (remarks “resigned” were placed beside five names of candidates.
A number of technical problems appeared, but they did not affect the final result of the election. The most important of them were: polling stations’ buildings that did not match the legal standards (TIO No 204, UIK No 32; Zhitomir, UIK No 68); the presence of agitation materials on the area of polling stations (UIK No 85, TIO No 127, Lvov Region, city of Drohobych, UIK No 48 and UIK No 11, Kiev Region, city of Borispol); putting in control lists without necessary stamps (UIK No 27, TIO No 120, city of Lvov); lack of transportation for ballot box for voting at home; lack of ballot papers on the day of the election caused by mistakes on voters’ lists (UIK No 1, TIO No 125, Lvov Region, village Zimnaya Voda); occurrence of billboards of some of the candidates on the day of the election (Lvov Region, the city of Sambir, Ivan Franko Street, 2, Kiev Region, the city of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and others). However, all those violations did not have mass, systematic, nor planned character.
 
Lack of ballot papers on polling stations:
 
Regional Election Committee No 43 in Donieck Region provided UIK No 63 with 70 ballot papers less than the number of voters on the list. A similar case took place in Chernigov Region, where UIK was provided with 100 ballot papers less than the number of voters on the list (TIO No 187, UIK No 110, Kherson Region, Tsyurupinskoy Area).

Including voters into additional voters’ lists

According to the legal system of Ukraine, polling stations election committee, regional election committee, the court and state registration institution have a right to include a voter into additional voters’ list in case when there is a reason to do it. However, on the night before January, 17th the Kiev Appeal Court decided to forbid this kind of changes on the lists. The Central Election Committee ignored this ruling and did not inform regional and polling station election committees about it. The information was spread by media. As a result, polling station election committees had to decide whether to object the ruling on the base of the information received from media or work on the base of official documents only. That is why polling stations election committees often made contradictory decisions.
Including voters into additional voters’ lists was a common phenomenon on the whole territory of Ukraine: in Donetsk, Lugansk, Ivano-Frankovsk, Zaporozhe, Odessa, Kherson, Lvov, Zhitomir, Cherhigov Regions and the city of Kiev.
 
Quality of voters’ lists, created on the basis of state voters registration, appeared to be unbelievably low. Even though people responsible for creating them had lots of resources and time for their work, the result is much worse than lists created in 2006 and 2007 years. Lots of voters were not able to find themselves on the lists. What is more, among them were people, who had no problems with finding their names on such lists earlier.
In Kherson Region a number 5000 names of people, who were not citizens of Ukraine, were entered on the lists. In Cherkassy Region (TIO No198) in one of the polling stations names of 9 deceased people (they passed away in the period of the lats 8 years) were entered on the list. In Kiev (TIO No 217 NU No 100) a woman found her maiden name on the list (she changed it 33 years ago!). In Odessa Region (TIO No 136) and Kiev Region (Yagotin, Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky) occurred some deceased people (who passed away in the last 3 years), while names of people who moved there are absent.
Similar events occurred on the whole territory of Ukraine.
 
Voting outside polling stations was one of the most arguable and controversial issues of the first turn of the election. This fact had both subective and objective reasons. Among the former one can mention the fact, that the election took place in Winter season, what do not make people (especially elderly) willingly leave their homes to vote. Among the latter one can mention the atmosphere, heated by Yulia Timoshenko’s staff; its members suggested that high number of votes for Yanukovich among people who voted at home may be a result of falsification. There should be noticed that this result does not differ significantly from results from earlier elections. For example, in Lvov Region about 70.000 voters voted at home, which is about 5% of the gross number of voters.
Nevertheless, there were situations when the number of people oting at home was not much smaller than 20% of the number of voters on the lists (TIO No 155m UIK No 45, Rovne Region; TIO No 160, UIK No 115, Sumy Region; TIO No 162, Konotop Area, Sumy Region).
On the average, the number of people willing to vote at home did not excede 10% of the number of voters on the lists.

The main violations

In the process of voting a number of violations was recorded. Among them one can mention: situations, when people made a photographs of their ballot papers using their mobile phones (TIO No 127, UIK No 48, Lvov Region, the city of Truskavec); the forbid of the presence of the international observers, candidates for president, and journalists to be present at the polling station. For example, in Donetsk Region (TIO No 60, No 109) a member of international monitoring mission ENEMO was not let into the polling station, on the base that he was registered in the Central Election Committee, but not in Regional Election Committee. In Odessa Region (TIO No 137, UIK No 69) a journalists of the ATV television chanell were not let into the plenary of the committee. Similar situations took place in some other regions – Vinnitsa, Kherson, Chernovtsy.
In Zaporozhe Region (TIO No 75, UIK No 60) a voter who tried to leave the polling station with clean ballot paper. In the same region an attempt of carry out 9 clean ballot papers was prevented. The same situation took place in Kherson Region, where a girl stole and tried to carry out of the polling stations 2 clean ballot papers (TIO No 184, UIK No 23).
On the day of the election some attempts of bribing the voters were noticed. In Cherkassy Region an elite-brand corn was proposed in exchange for voting for a particular candidate (the city of Talnoe), and also money and vodka (the city of Chernobai).
There were a few cases of deaths on the area of polling stations (TIO No 62, UIK No 5, Donetsk Area).

V.                 Conclusions

1.        Even though according to the new electoral law the electoral process should be shortened from 120 to 90 days, it did not have any influence on its quality. It concerns firstly the process of creating administrave structure of election committees.
2.        Violations that took place on the day of the election did not have a mass nor system scale. Possibly, it is because it was only a first turn of the election.
3.        The biggest problem on the day of the election was a low quality of voters’ lists, and chaos that emerged during the process of introduction voters into additional voters’ lists. This problem should be minimized and regulated; otherwise, it may create a possibility of a lagre-scale distortion of the result of the election.
4.        A special attention should be paid to the process of the process of the creation of regional and polling station election committees. According to the law, during the second term they will be created proportionally from the representatives of both candidates, who will have 7 representatives in every regional election committee and 8 representatives in every polling station committee. Having in mind that the committees will consist of the representatives of only two candidates, a strategy of attempts of obstruct the committee’s work on the base of lack of necessary majority of its members is quite probable.
5.        One should pay attention to the number of people announcements to vote at home, registered before the second turn of the election. This possibility may be used by candidates to influence the result of the election.
 

Examples of tipical violations during the presidental election, Ukraine 2010

 

 
Number
 
Violation 
 
Region
 
Area
 
 
Polling station
 
 
 
Deails
1
 
Uncomfortable deployment of observers and members of committees
 
 
Lvov
Kievskaya
 
 
Borispol
Yagotin
 
 
41, 41, 47
8, 20
150
 
 
2 Violating the confidence of the voting
Lvov
Lugansk
 
41
 
Cameras beside the polling boxes. Students obliged to make snapshots of their ballot papers
3 Not opening polling stations on time
Kiev City
Kiev
  219
 
Belotserkovskiy district, 23 stations – no necessary majority (fictional people included)
4 Mistakes on voters’ lists
Kiev City
Kiev
 
 
 
 
 
 
Odessa
Zhitomir
Chernigov
 
217
223
Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky
Fastov, Vasilkov, Boyarka, Yagotin
136
100
39
73
78, 81,90
85
 
 
13,19,23
 
23, 110
31
 
 
 
 
Not entering registered voters on the lists
 
Deceased people on the lists, lack of people who moved recently
Students’names were not entered on the lists
5 Agitation on the day of the election Kiev
Borispol
 
 
 
 
 
Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky
 
48
 
11
A poster in front on the entrance to the polling station
A default balot paper with a mark beside Timoshenko’s name
 
Timoshenko’s agitation materials
6 Giving sheets to people without documents Kiev
Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky
 
Belaya Tserkov
71
 
 
1,9
Lots of decased people on the lists
7 Unsatisfactory preparation of polling station Kiev
Borispol
Berezan
122,125
119
No information about candidates
8 Violating of the voting outside polling station procedure  
Kozelets
Brovary
116
31
People’s names entered on the list without them being let known.
Committee left station with the original of the list and not the copy.
 

 

 

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