A briefing of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine was held: "Main problems before the voting day: CVU assessment". The event was supported by the European Union. The views expressed are not the EU's position.
During the briefing, the CVU report on the results of long-term observation was published.
CVU Chairman Oleksiy Koshel noted that the number of candidates is almost the same as the number of candidates in 2015, but there are many more parties. This is due to the fact that in Ukraine there are regional parties that nominate candidates only in a certain region or in a particular city.
One of the main problems of the campaign was the use of shadow funds and the use of violence and black PR against candidates.
The key differences from 2015, which were highlighted in the CVU, are the active use of electoral tourism, which began as a result of changes in legislation and citizens were able to change their electoral address. As a consequence, election results in some communities may be falsified.
The problem of use of violence and the destruction of campaign materials of competitors is important. For example, in the Kharkiv region, the car of a «European Solidarity» candidate was set on fire, it is the 11th case of violence against candidates during the election campaign.
Oleksiy Koshel underscored the problem, that of election administrators refusing to come home to people who are unable to come to the polls due to their health condition because they perceive unsafe to their health. The key problem is that the state has not adequately funded personal protective equipment for election administrators. We can observe how the state has removed itself from solving this problem and each election administrator must think how to protect themselves.
Nataly Lynnyk gave some important advice for voters. First of all, she underscored the importance of coming to the polls and making your choice. Voters should not allow "blind" voting, that is necessary to know all the information about the candidates and make their choice consciously. It is better to choose a candidate in advance to spend less time at the polling station and expose yourself less to danger.
The event was supported by the European Union. The views expressed are not the EU's position.
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1. According to the estimation of the CVU the Electoral Code of Ukraine generally allows holding elections in compliance with the international standards, but it contains a number of essential faults and shortcomings. The CVU assesses the practice of altering electoral legislation not long before the elections negatively. Such a situation not only deprives the election stockholders of time to come to know the electoral legislation, but also leads to errors and drawbacks in the texts of documents.
2. The CVU believes that the Electoral Code of Ukraine should be essentially reviewed after the local elections campaign is completed. In the CVU’s opinion, stopping using proportional electoral system in small communities and stipulating the citizens’ right to self-nomination in such communities is worth it.
3. Although the citizens were given broad legal opportunities for changing the registered address, only a relatively insignificant number of voters used this procedure. In general, 100,081 voters have changed the electoral address. This makes less than 2% of the number of citizens who could potentially use the procedure. Under approximate evaluation in Ukraine there are from 5.5 to 6 million citizens who live not where their registration is.
4. The CVU considers the preparedness of sate authorities to holding elections during the pandemic insufficient. Appropriate decisions regarding the organization of elections during the pandemic were taken late, directly within the election process. The state didn’t allocate funds for providing the members of electoral commissions with protective means. The resolution that such events are to be funded from reserve funds of local budgets is considered conceptually incorrect and not instrumental to the protection of election stakeholders during the pandemic.
5. Generally, the CVU evaluates the activities of the Central Election Commission positively with regards to organizing and holding local elections. Although the basic powers at local elections are executed by local electoral commissions, the CEC has duly performed its supervisory and organizational duties. The CVU positively estimates the CEC’s publication of clarifications on disputable provisions of the Electoral Code, which furthered the uniformity in applying the electoral legislation.
6. Establishment of territorial electoral commissions took place in time and in compliance with the requirements of the electoral legislation. However, frequent changes in their membership became a problem in the commissions’ work. As of the 19th of October, the CEC replaced 4,749 members of territorial electoral commissions (including 321 heads of TECs, 275 deputy heads of TECs, 342 secretaries of TECs), with those replacements occurring actually after the commissions’ establishment and kept occurring till the Voting Day. Thus, on the 10th of September the CEC established the TECs’ composition, and already on the 14th of September first changes in the membership were made. After that the replacements took place regularly, actually weekly.
7. The work of certain TECs proved problematic. In the result, the CEC adopted a resolution on premature termination of powers of those TECs that fragrantly violated the electoral legislation. In particular, were terminated the powers of all the composition of Ivano-Frankivsk regional, Odessa city, Berdiandk town, Vasylkiv town, Kagarlyk town, Rubizhne town TECs.
8. In a part of communities problems with formation of electoral districts were observed. The Electoral Code stipulates for only general algorithm of determining the number of and requirements to districts, however their exact number are determined by TECs (within the limits allowed by the Electoral Code). In the result parties often speculated on this legal norm and demanded the TECs should establish different number of districts (the parties with greater support demanded establishment of a maximal number of districts, those with less support demanded for minimal number). Problematic became establishment of electoral districts in the City of Kyiv, where through political speculations and nebulosity of electoral legislation the resolution was taken with a delay
9. The TECs mostly timely and in compliance with the Electoral Code’s requirements established precinct electoral commissions. In this a significant part of potential commission members refused the work through the fact that elections take place under a new legislation and during the coronavirus pandemic. Such situations were observed in all the regions of Ukraine. For a vast majority of commissions undue provisions of them with antiseptic means (masks, sanitizers, protective shields for those voters who vote at the place where they are) became a common problem.
10. The CVU notes an increase in number of political parties taking part in local elections. In total 194 political parties announced on their participation in the elections (in 2015 – 140 parties). Also over a quarter minion candidates – 275 thousand persons – registered for participation in the elections. The largest number of candidates run for deputies of regional, district councils, as well as of village, settlement, town councils where the number of voters if over 10, thousand – that is 227,405 candidates. On the average, 7 candidates contest for the offices of city/town mayors.
11. In 24 towns clone candidates, that is the persons with the same surnames, run for the town mayor’s offices. The clone candidates are registered in such towns as Uzhgorod, Uman’, Nizhyn, Verkhniodniprovsk, Rakhiv, Energodar, Boryspil, Tetiiv, Kreminna, Svatovo, Starobilsk, Glyniany, Vosnesensk, Artsyz, Bolgrad, Tatarbunary, Reshetylivka, Kostopil, Berislav, Kakhovka, Oleshky, Kherson, Vashkivtsi. As a rule, it deals on two – three persons with the same surname. Sometimes, beside the surnams, the candidates’ names are also identic. A record number of clone candidates is registered in Kreminna town of Luganska Region – three pairs of clones.
12. Every other mayor of a large city has changed the political party as compared to 2015. Out of 22 large cities’ mayors (regional centers and Kyiv City) 12 mayors changed the nominator as compared to 2015 elections. Only 5 city mayors haven’t changed the party. 5 more city mayors don’t run. Those who haven’t changed the party are mayors of Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Sumy, Odessa, Lviv.
13. As a whole, the CVU states that the stage of nomination and registration of candidates was rather problematic. Such a situation arose through renewed electoral legislation, practicing which led to conflicts between potential candidates and members of electoral commissions. This resulted in a significant number of complaints and hearings in courts. The CVU states problems with abiding the gender quota that arose for some parties while registering their electoral lists. In general, the court practice as regards to hearing the cases that are connected with abiding to the gender quota is different and the resolutions of court authorities on similar cases differ between one another. Among the most frequent problems that were arising while candidates’ registration beside the gender quota, there also was violating the mode of installing the security money and simultaneous membership of candidates in two political parties.
14. Massive facts of premature agitation from yet unregistered candidates became one of the electoral process problems. According the estimation of the CVU as of the beginning of August over 16 political parties were actually holding political agitation. Such a situation promotes significant going the electoral funds into shade, as the expenses on political advertisement are not recorded in books prior to the official start of an election campaign. One of the reasons for a significant volume of premature agitation is the short election campaign. Officially, the local elections candidates had slightly over a month for holding agitation.
15. The CVU’s observers noted high activeness of so-called regional political parties. That is parties, whose activity is concentrated within the limits of one or several regions, and sometimes – within a town. This especially refers to Zakarpatska, Odesska, Kharkivska, Cherkasska, Poltavska, Khersonska Regions. In general, in a third of regions regional political parties are campaigning more actively than pan-Ukrainian parties are. Also worth stating is the regional activity of newly established parties that took part in local elections for the first time.
16. The CVU states a generally low level of content-richness of campaigns at local elections. Although it deals with local elections, the pan-Ukrainian topics prevail. Political parties and candidates tend to emphasize pan-Ukrainian problems, not dwelling into local problems. Promises to establish peace, growth of economy, protection of state sovereignty can be referred to such. Such promises do not comply with the scope of authority of local self-governance bodies. The CVU negatively estimates the fact that the Electoral Code of Ukraine does not stipulate for filing election programs for candidates to offices of village, settlement, town mayors. Among the most widely spread form of campaign agitation are placing agitation on outdoor media (billboards), deployment of campaigning tents and placing materials in mass media. The CVU notes growth in cases of using the Internet and social networking sites for campaigning compared with the previous local elections.
17. Non-adherence to the requirements of the Electoral Code of Ukraine regarding the placement of campaign agitation became the most widely spread violation. In particular, distribution of agitation materials without circulation information and placing such in improper places. The cases of deploying illegal agitation were present in all regions of Ukraine without exceptions. The CVU’s observers informed on engaging incumbent city/town mayors and deputies in holding illegal agitation, who used municipal resources with political purposes.
18. The facts of bribing the voters took place in a third of regions. As a rule, it dealt with handing out household goods, foodstuffs set, masks and sanitizers to the voters free of charge. The technology of “good cause” was actively used. Often charity foundations that are associated with certain candidates were engaged in such activity. The campaign’s specialty became distributing the pandemic protection means (masks, disinfectants, medicines) among the voters. Despite exact legislative prohibition, the parties and candidates, alike the previous elections, handed out traditional foodstuffs sets to the voters.
19. One of the disingenuous techniques that were used at the local elections and that bear signs of voters bribing is the technology of “electoral tourism”. It deals on massive facts of changing the electoral registered address of citizens in return to monetary remuneration from interested parties. Such facts took place in Odesska, Zakarpatska, Khmelnytska, Kyivska, Zhytomyrska, Zaporiz’ka, Ternopilska, Kirovogradska Regions. Predominantly such a technology was used in wealthy rural communities with small number of voters. At the CVU’s estimation, in the conditions of low voters’ turnout, such changes in the number of voters could essentially affect the elections outcome. The technology of using the “electoral tourism” became possible through the amendments to the Electoral Code of Ukraine that simplified the procedures of changing the electoral address.
20. The problem of administrative resource at local elections was manifested, in particular, in the activities of the President of Ukraine. The Head of State V. Zelenskyi actually used work trips around the regions of Ukraine for campaigning for the political party “Servant of the People”. Such activities were on the rise in August – September. It is worth taking into account that it dealt with work visits of the President to the regions of Ukraine. In accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, the President is not prohibited from political activities during the incumbency, but in the CVU’s opinion, such activities shall not be combined with exertion of the President’s duties and cannot lead to the using of the status and powers of the President in campaigning for a political power.
21. The CVU notes the facts of criminalization of electoral process in some communities. Attacks and battery of candidates was documented in a part of communities. A number of parties publicly announced of provocations towards their political forces. Massive facts of damaging the agitation materials of candidates and political parties were documented. Such cases occurred in the majority of Ukrainian Regions. The increase of cases of using “black PR” technologies on the Voting Day eve have also become a problem.