REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF VOTERS OF UKRAINE ON OBSERVATION OF VOTING AND VOTE TABULATION AT THE PARLIAMENTARY AND LOCAL ELECTIONS ON MARCH 26, 2006

The Committee of Voters of Ukraine is the all-Ukrainian NGO, which has been monitoring the election campaigns in Ukraine for 12 years in terms of adherence to Ukrainian laws and international standards of the democratic election by the campaign’s actors. On the polling day, March 26, 2006, the CVU deployed 5,000 short-term observers at polling stations throughout Ukraine, who worked as official observers or journalists of the Tochka Zoru Newspaper. Also, representatives of the CVU oversaw the process of handing out minutes to the territorial and constituency election commissions, monitored activities of such commissions.

Before and on the polling day, a free hot line was available; employees of the CVU received information on infringements and rendered legal advice. On the polling day, more than 28,000 voters and election commission members called the "hot line” to provide or request information.

 

Based on the monitoring` results, the CVU states as follows:

 

  1. The voting at parliamentary and local elections was conducted under free and transparent conditions. CVU registered very few acts of pressure on voters, members of election commissions, mass media and observers. The ballots put into boxes reflect the voters’ will accurately.
  2. At vote tabulation after March 26, procedural norms were infringed, especially in the part of handing documents to constituency and territorial election commissions, and adjusting minutes executed by PSCs. It created conditions for abuses at vote tabulation, and gave ground for numerous claims against voting results. However, there are no sufficient evidences of violations affecting results of the parliamentary election. At the same time, there were violations affecting results of individual local elections.
  3. Several territorial election commissions have already declare results of local elections as invalid and announced repeated tabulation of votes. In many instances, election commissions and courts still consider appeals. Promulgation of voting results and start of operation of newly elected councils may be delayed for months because of court proceedings and appeals.
  4. Revealed violations gave no ground for re-calculation of votes of the parliamentary election. In each case, when complaints of observers or commission members against violations of the vote tabulation procedure are available, a count may oblige the relevant polling commission to re-calculate votes at the given station.

 

Based on observation results, the CVU recommends as follows:

 

  1. The CEC, all constituency and territorial election commissions should promulgate voting results for all polling stations in each relevant constituency in order to allow comparison with data available with HQs of parties (blocs).
  2. Re-calculation of votes should be held at polling stations, where observers complained against violations of the vote tabulation procedure, and at polling stations with doubtful minutes, if any.
  3. In future, parliamentary and local elections should be separated.
  4. The unified electoral register should be created with due regard to experience gained and problems faced at compilation of voter’s lists for the 2006 election.
  5. Electoral legislation should be unified through drafting and adoption of the Electoral Code. Among others, non-governmental organizations of Ukraine should be empowered to monitor local elections.

Voting Procedure

 

The CVU estimates that about 20 % of polling stations were opened with 20-30-minute delays, as pre-election meetings were prolonged because of technical reasons and ballot papers were issued to commissioners out of time. However, it did not affect the voting procedure, as the majority of voters who came to polling stations, stayed there until opening. However, some polling stations started their work with more than one-hour delay.

Also, in some regions voting failed to start in due time because persons running for local positions were withdrawn from the race before the voting. Commissions were not informed on cancellation of registration in due time, so ballot papers did not bear the “crossed out” stamps. At those polling stations, results of voting at local elections may be declared void. Also, such commissions started crossing out the Tretya Syla (the Third Force) party from ballot papers for the parliamentary election, although the party remained the subject of electoral process.

 

Donetsk oblast

Polling station commissions in Donetsk city (constituency # 39, 40, 41) were opened with delay because of withdrawal of the Nash Donbas bloc from election to rayon council of Donetsk. About 10-15% polling stations, which crossed out the bloc from ballot papers, started their operation with delays (polling stations # 85 and # 110, constituency # 39 (Kyivskyi district, Donetsk), polling station # 23, constituency # 39 (Voroshylivskyi district, Donetsk).

Operations of the polling station commission # 85 (constituency # 49, Mariupol city) were suspended, when they found out that a “crossed out” stamp was not attached in front of the Nash Donbas’ line. Chair of the commission said he did not know about the bloc’s withdrawal, as the territorial election commission had not made the relevant announcement.

 

Cherkasy oblast

About 20 % polling station commissions in constituency # 199 failed to start voting in due time. It happened because commissioners received a resolution on withdrawal of the candidate for the mayor’s office Mr. Voloshyn and his bloc form the race in the morning of the polling day only. Thus, polling station commissions # 120, 103, 30 (constituency # 199, Cherkasy) failed to start polling at 7:50 a.m. Polling station commission # 15 (constituency # 199, Cherkasy) got the resolution at 7:30 a.m., when about 100 voters have already cast their votes.

 

Kyiv oblast

Constituency # 86, Bila Tserkva town. Polling station commissions suspended voting in order to cross out the oblast organization of the Party of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists of Ukraine from ballot papers.

 

In most cases, capacities of polling stations were not enough to serve all persons willing to cat their votes. The number of ballot booths was insufficient. There were long queues almost at all polling stations. At that, the majority of voters managed to vote, after having waited for a while. At medium-sized and big polling stations, many voters filled in ballot papers outside of booths. At sites, where polling station commissions installed the greater number of booths (about 10-15 %), secrecy of voting was preserved. Nobody exerted pressure upon voters filling in ballot papers outside of polling booths.

Quality of voter’s lists remained poor, as it was expected to be. The CVU assumes that about 1.5-2% of voters could not cast their votes because of errors in lists. At that, voters, who had checked their names before the polling day and made corrections, often found erroneous personal data in lists. However, the CVU believes that problems with electoral registers gave no odds to any party.

 

Kherson oblast

Two apartment houses (25 and 27 Fontanna St.) in Kherson have been omitted in the voter’s lists.

 

Odesa oblast

Constituency # 133, polling station # 65: about 100 voters did not find their names in voting lists.

Constituency # 137, polling stations 50-55: about 200 voters at each polling station could not cast their votes because of omissions in voter’s lists.

Three calls were given to the CVU’ hot line from the polling station # 112 (constituency # 137), where 700 voters did not find their names in the list (Shyrajeve rayon, Shyrajeve settlement, Korobchenko, Horkyi, Stepova, Zhevchenko, Lenin, Lomonosov streets) — about 100 voters from each street

 

Kharkiv oblast

Constituency # 183, polling station # 47 (Yuzhnyi urban type settlement) — many voters have been omitted. Mrs. Tamara Kolesnyk checked her name and data of her family members and appealed for putting on the list twice; however, no corrections were made.

 

At the same time, the CVU is informed that individual courts make decisions on putting voters to the lists on the polling day. Then, they refer to the Constitution. In some courts, blank forms for applications of voters have been revealed. It means that the collision has been planned.

 

Vinnytsa oblast

Constiuency # 9: about two dozens of voters appealed to court for putting them on voter’s lists.

Observers of the CVU noted excessive number of voters registered for voting at home at some polling stations. Also, the CVU revealed lists not supported with applications of voters for voting at home. In some constituencies, only 190-15 % applications for voting at the place of a voter’s stay were written by hand. Sometimes, commissioners sent people away from polling stations saying they should cast their votes at home. Lack of transparency rendered abuses at home voting possible.

Such problems occurred in many regions, but mainly in Donetsk oblast.

 

Donetsk oblast

Observers of the CVU registered numerous cases of adding names to the lists for voting at home in Artemivsk town. Actually, number of applications was below the number of voters put on the list for home voting: at polling station # 37, constituency # 42 – 90 persons on the list and only 9 applications available; polling station # 8, constituency # 42 – 100 persons on the list and 40 applications on hand; polling station # 39, constituency # 42 – 53 persons and 9 applications; polling station # 26, constituency # 42 – 46 voters on the list and 6 applications filed etc.

Polling station commission # 84, constituency # 39 (Kyivskyi district, Donetsk): the CVU’s mobile group saw Mr. Ihor Kiyanenko, member of the group for home voting, who was sitting in the car alone and filling in coupon of ballot papers.

Polling station commission # 80, constituency # 41 (Donetsk): when the group of commissioners for voting at home came to voters, people said they had not appealed for home voting. When the group came back to the polling station and checked out 80 applications, they revealed that almost all of them were made by one hand; in all papers, “applicants” referred to one diagnosis.

 

Lviv oblast

We had alarming signals from territorial election district # 125 (Zhydachiv town), where from 52 to 110 voters have been put on the lists for voting at home at 20 polling stations.

 

Kharkiv oblast

Constituency # 178, polling station # 148 (Chuhuiv town) — 180 persons have been put on the list for voting at home; however, there are only eight applications on hand. Voters are not allowed to cast their votes at the polling station because somebody has already referred them to lists for voting at home.

Also, the CVU registered provocations at polling stations, campaigning, bribery, “merry-go-round” voting (when one persons votes at several stations), adding ballot papers to ballot boxes, and criminal interferences into the voting process. It should be noted that militia officers responded to such violations without delay, unlike the previous campaign in Ukraine.

 

Zakarpattya oblast 

Polling stations #141, 142 of constituency #69 are located in the building of the secondary school #20. There was an attempt to organize “merry-go-round”, for this purpose delivery of voters was provided.

 

Donetsk oblast

Polling station #8, constituency #39 (Donetsk) – an attempt to carry bulletins out of the polling station was made.

 

Ivano-Frankivsk oblast

constituency # 85, polling station #19 (Beleluya village of Snyatynsk region). Bulletins for Snyatynsk region council were lost. Law-enforcement bodies investigated in the case.

 

Zhytomyr oblast

Observers form the Lytvyn bloc stayed at polling stations #107 and #120, constituency #56, with badges bearing the bloc’s number in ballot papers for local election. People informed that the city HQs distributed such badges to all observers.

 

Kyiv oblast

Voters attempted to take ballot papers out of polling stations #62, # 32, constituency # 86. Relevant statements on infringements were made.

At polling stations #10, 11, 13 (constituency # 91, Irpin town), the CVU observers noted a “merry-go-round”.

 

Vote tabulation

 

Closing of polling stations and vote tabulation at PSCs

The majority of polling stations were closed in due time, at 10.00 p.m. At the same time, many stations remained pen until all voters present at the station, cast their votes. Usually, delays did not exceed 30 minutes. With minor exceptions, all observers were allowed to the voting tabulation procedure

 

Donetsk oblast

Polling station commission # 97, constituency # 39 – commissioners prohibited the CVU observer from monitoring the vote tabulation procedure with their formal decision.

Polling station commission #158, constituency # 43 (Debaltseve town). Observers witnessed kidnapping of an observer from the People’s Union Our Ukraine. Criminals severely beat him, forced to drink alcohol and brought to the polling station in 7 hours only. Relevant claims have been filed with Debaltseve and Horlivka city militia offices.

 

Kherson oblast

Polling station commission # 130, constituency # 184. Chair of the commission refused to consider claims. Unauthorized “technical members” were present at the polling station that “helped” to count ballot papers. The chair of the commission refused to read data for entering into the minutes, and did not let observers to come closer to the table. When an observer remarked on violations, one commissioner has thrown a pack of ballot papers at him.

 

Cherkasy oblast

Polling station commission # 76, constituency #199 (Cherkasy city): observers from the CVU and political parties / blocs were not allowed to stay at vote tabulation.

 

Immediately after the vote tabulation began, problem of poor qualification of commissioners occurred. In many cases, members of the polling station commissions studied norms of legislation dealing with vote tabulation at the polling station for a long time.

 

Lviv oblast

Polling station # 6 (constituency # 112, Lviv) was closed at 10.15 p.m. However, vote tabulation started at 1.15 a.m. only. According to observer of the CVU, management of the commission was studying the Law of Election.

It took even more time for execution of all formalities, which preceded opening of ballot boxes (cancellation of unused ballot papers, calculation of the number of votes who cast their votes, coupons etc.) as a result, vote tabulation started at some polling stations in the morning of March 27.

Dnipropetrovsk oblast

Polling station commission # 70, constituency # 31 (Kryvyi Rih city) — ballot boxes were opened at 7.00 a.m. of March 27.

 

Donetsk oblast

Polling station commission #8, constituency # 39 – 1,541 voters out of 2,245 have cast their votes. The polling station commission started vote tabulation at 10.00 only.

 

Odesa oblast

Polling station commission # 76, constituency # 133 – the commission could not start processing ballot papers until 6.00 a.m.

Kharkiv oblast

Polling station commission # 47, constituency # 174 (Kharkiv city) — commission members began vote tabulation at 9.00 a.m.

 

Poor professional level of commissioners caused numerous problems already at opening ballot boxes. In particular, often they failed to separate ballot papers for the parliamentary and local elections. As a result, they entered the total number of ballot papers available into minutes for the parliamentary election. Naturally, number of bulletins thus registered exceeded the actual number of voters in 4-5-fold (depending on the number of local elections held at the polling station). Such inaccuracies had no impact upon voting results, because the total number of voters, who cast their votes for individual parties / blocs, corresponded to the number of voters, which received ballot papers. Nevertheless, such oddities enabled some political parties and blocs to claim about mass falsifications of the election.

Some election commissions infringed the order of vote tabulation.

 

Odesa oblast

Polling station commission # 52, constituency # 137 – first, they calculated ballot papers for election of the city mayor. At that, commissioners said that they were more anxious about outcome of the local campaign. Similar infringement occurred at all polling stations of Rozdilna town (polling stations # 50-55).

Mainly, polling station commissions tried to observe all procedures as provided for by the legislation for calculation of the fist set of bulletins (for the parliamentary election). Subsequent tabulations, usually, infringed the procedure (i.e., simultaneous tabulation by several commissioners, failure to announce data etc.) However, it optimized the tabulation procedure and, by assessments of the CVU, had no effect upon the election results.

 

Cherkasy oblast

In order to speed-up the process, commissioners employed observers for vote tabulation and even minute taking. Thus, at the polling station # 66, constituency # 209 (Hluboka village) and at polling station # 49, constituency # 210 (Zastavna town) official observers from candidates, parties and blocs took part in vote tabulation.

It also turned out during tabulation, that some ballot papers bore no signatures commissioners or official seals. Often, commissioners excused themselves with tiredness. Such ballot papers were registered as valid.

 

Donetsk oblast

Polling station commission # 113, constituency # 39 (Donetsk city). In the course of vote tabulation, they found 283 bulletins bearing no signature of a commissioner. At that, the commission accepted those ballot papers as valid with its formal resolution.

 

However, by assessment of the CVU, no gross falsifications were made at vote tabulation at polling stations, despite individual violations. Falsified entries mainly dealt with local elections and could distort voting results at individual constituencies.

 

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Polling station commissions # 5, 7, 9 (Alushta) and some PSCs in Simeiz settlement (constituency # 7): having noticed during tabulation that “their” candidate was lagging behind, commissioners mixed all ballot papers together (as if accidentally), and then one commissioner re-calculated them without showing for general observation. As a result, the “favored” candidate has won.

 

Donetsk oblast

Observers of the CVU noticed the following violation in the course of vote tabulation at polling station # 27, constituency # 39 (Voroshylivskyi district, Donetsk city) in the morning of March 27: during calculation of ballot papers cast for deputies of Voroshylivska rayon council, the total number of votes exceeded the number of voters, who cast their votes at the polling station, by 60. After repeat calculation, they revealed that “odd” votes were cast in favor of the Party of Regions. When official observers executed a statement on infringement, those “additional” votes were cancelled, and figures were balanced again.

 

Upon tabulation, the majority of observers were given copies of minutes with voting results. Although in some cases commissions did not provide observers with copies referred to absence of blank forms. It was the common practice in Mykolaiv and Kherson oblast. In addition, some polling stations (i.e, constituency # 118, Lviv oblast) issued blank minutes to observers bearing signatures and seals, saying they had no time to fill in thereof.

 

Handing documents to constituency and territorial election commissions

The “weak link” of the voting tabulation procedure was handing minutes (and other documents: bulletins, lists etc.) from polling stations to constituency election commissions (parliamentary election) and territorial election commissions (local elections).

Polling station commissioners, exhausted after 36-hour work, brought minutes to CECs and TECs by the evening of March 27. At that, they had to wait for several hours, especially at territorial election commissions, which received more than one set of documents, unlike CECs. In the course of acceptance, many errors, alterations and inaccuracies were revealed in minutes. They sent polling station commissioners back to PECs for finalization of minutes. At various CECs, share of erroneous minutes totaled 30 – 80 % (!). For example, the constituency election commission (Sevastopol) did not accept 49 minutes out of 60. Polling station commissioners, who were ordered to come back to polling stations, just dropped packs with minutes and bulletins and left constituency election commissions. For some of them, militia officers were sent.

After coming back to polling stations, commissioners usually could not start finalizing of minutes, because the majority of commissioners have already left stations. At the best, polling stations commissions managed to convoke the next meeting on March 28. However, many commissioners could not attend meetings for various reasons, so quorum was absent. Often, leaders of PECs should visit their commissioners at home / offices in order to get their signatures put to adjusted minutes. Some commissioners were not found, so it is quite possible that some members of PECs have minutes differing from official data submitted to constituency / territorial election commissions.

It may give raise to accusations of falsifications during the vote tabulation; however, the CVU believes that problems did not affect validity of the election results, at least, as to the parliamentary election. Also, observers of the CVU did not reveal falsifications on the constituency level. Some technical mistakes were made at entering data into e-databases with subsequent transference to the Central Election Commission.

 

Appealing against results of the local elections

Local elections (especially elections of city mayors) were held with violations or other drawbacks affecting results of voting in many regions (i.e., withdrawal of candidates from the race immediately before the polling day). Elections of city mayors of Simferopol, Zhytomyr, Alushta and some other settlements have already been declared invalid. Local election was not held in Khmelnytskyi.

We have controversial information from several other oblast centers, where gap between major competitors is negligible, and events, which occurred before voting, on the polling day and during vote tabulation, might affect results of voting. The CVU expects that election of city mayors may be declared invalid in Cherkasy, Zaporizhza, Lutsk, Poltava, Irpin and Kozyn. Also, several dozens of claims for declaring local election results invalid have been filed in various regions of Ukraine, Part of them, most likely, will be allowed.

 Situation in Kozyn settlement of Kyiv oblast requires special consideration. There, local TEC commission declared Mr. V.Hartic the elected head of the council of Kozyn urban-type settlement. This decision contradicts to paragraph 2 of Article 73 of the Law on Local Election, because Mr. Hartic has got 564 votes, while 706 voters have not support any candidate.

There is the collision of law at certain local councils to be resolved. Some parties have won more mandates than candidates registered in their lists. The law gives no recommendations for such cases. So, repeat elections may be scheduled in such settlements. Thus, Yulia Tymoshenk’s Bloc has gained more mandates in Cherkasy city council, when candidates registered in the Bloc’s electoral list. Also, the Party of Regions can not fill all positions in Voznesenska rayon council, Mykolaiv oblast.

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