BRAMA, Nov 8, 2004, 1:00 pm ET|
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE
- 31 OCTOBER 04 -
BY THE UKRAINIAN CONGRESS COMMITTEE OF AMERICA
GROUP OF OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS
(LUHANSK OBLAST DELEGATION)
We, as official international election observers appointed by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and registered by the Central Election Commission of Ukraine, file the following preliminary report based on documented observations in Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine.
The UCCA group of officially registered election observers support Ukraine's commitment to OSCE standards for free and fair elections, that accurately reflect the will of the electorate. UCCA does not support any candidate, party or election block.
A delegation of 12 observers traveled to Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine to report on the adherence to international election standards in the province. This delegation of observers had the opportunity to visit all electoral territories in Luhansk Oblast prior to Election Day (E-Day). The delegation remained in the province over a ten day period, commencing on 23 October 2004 and concluding on 1 November 2004. On E-Day, 31 October 2004, all twelve electoral territories (Numbers 105 to 116) were again visited to observe the election process taking place.
Prior to E-Day, teams met with representatives of the four major presidential candidates (Moroz, Symonenko, Yanukovych & Yushchenko), members of various Precinct Election Commissions (PEC) and Territorial Election Commissions (TEC), political party representatives, authorized candidate representatives, official (domestic) observers appointed by candidates, other official international observer groups, members of the mass media and local citizens.
Purpose & Scope:
This report has two main purposes:
- Firstly, to provide a synopsis of observations conducted in the twelve electoral territories of Luhansk Oblast, with a special emphasis on E-Day occurrences; and
- Secondly, to produce recommendations based on selected major violations.
There were some positive aspects to the election process in Luhansk Oblast. Nevertheless, consistent with Article 70(5) of the Law of Ukraine "On the Elections of the President of Ukraine"
(the Election Law), this report is basing its recommendations solely on observed violations - so that they may be properly recorded in the public domain and hopefully actions taken so that they can be avoided in the future.
The delegation had occasion to observe serious campaign irregularities in the pre-election period. In the main, these irregularities can be characterized as the 'absence of a level playing field' that would help ensure fair elections. Many of these reflect preferential treatment based on an abuse of state or administrative authority. We list below some of the major irregularities in the pre-election period:
- Numerous media violations whereby all candidates were not given equal access to unbiased media coverage;
- The unlawful use of public administrative resources to support the government candidate;
- Pressure by the campaign of the government candidate on selected voters to support their candidate and/or to abstain from supporting opposition candidates;
- The use of public authorities to obstruct and/or disrupt the pre-election campaigns of opposition candidates;
- Use of inflammatory campaign material contrary to the law; and
- The absence of accuracy in the voters lists.
In addition, the current framework for determining the composition of PEC's and TEC's, as outlined in the
Election Law, does not ensure unbiased treatment of all candidates. Major candidates have the ability to stack these commissions with their supporters through other secondary candidates and/or remove unwanted commission members. Since the decisions of these commissions are conducted on the basis of a majority of votes, this leaves ample opportunity to manipulate outcomes. The potential for systemic abuse of this sort is high in our opinion; however, that is not to say that all major candidates participated in such manipulation.
- Bribery, Intimidation or Harassment of Voters & Campaign Workers - Article 157 of the Criminal Code & Article 64(6) of the Election Law
- Expulsion of a student from the Luhansk Agrarian University for campaigning for an opposition candidate (Yushchenko). Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 41
- Students alleging that they were advised that they would be expelled from school if they did not support and vote for the government candidate. Students offered bribes that they would get increased marks for co-operating. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 14; TEC 109 - PEC 1
- Claims by campaign workers that they would be physically harmed, their homes destroyed or their jobs lost if they did not vote for the government candidate. Ref: TEC 109 - PEC 1
- Voters alleging they were offered 100 hryvnia to vote for a candidate (Yanukovych). TEC 107 - PEC 32
- PEC member told to add new voters onto voters list without proper TEC or court documentation. Ref: TEC 105; TEC 115 - PEC 64
- Students alleging they were advised that if they vote for a candidate (Yanukovych), they would get two months of free boarding. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 41
- Voter complaints of the town's mayor insisting citizens vote for government candidate. Ref: TEC 111 - PEC 92; TEC 115 - PEC 7
- PEC member advising voter which candidate to vote for. Ref: TEC 115 - PEC 91
- Employees alleging employer advising them how to vote and then subsequently monitoring the attendance of employees at a PEC to see if they voted. Ref: TEC 113 - PEC 68 & 69
- Voters seen receiving free beer on the premises of 2 PEC's of the same TEC. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 63 & 64
- Voter List Violations - Articles 31, 32, 33 & 34 of the Election Law
- Variety of inaccuracies, including listing of deceased voters, multiple entry of voters and voters missing off of voter's lists. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 7,11,15,21,47,60,61, 62, 65, 66, 67 & 77; TEC 106 - PEC 4, 41, 59, 61, 62, 63, 65 &77; TEC 108 - PEC 14; TEC 116 - 32 & 36; TEC 109 - PEC 1, 16, & 40; TEC 111 - PEC 17; TEC 113 - PEC 10
- Over 700 students voters added to voter's list within 2 days of elections and told to vote for a candidate (Yanukovych). Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 14/Over 200 added in TVK 105,DVK 45
- Numerous irregularities regarding voters lists with either unnumbered pages, unnumbered voters, and/or improperly signed and sealed documentation. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 36, 79 & 80; TEC 108 - PEC 82
- Voters list missing from PEC premises. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 68/ 69/Nechaev/
- Over 400 voters added to voters list without proper documentation and authorization. Ref. TEC 111 - PEC 86,TEC 105 - PEC 33
- Voters allowed to vote more than once or with falsified identification. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 45; TEC 106 - PEC 63.
- Changes to voters list made in pencil then erased on E-Day. Ref: TEC 115 - PEC 7
- Ballot Box Violations - Articles 70(5), 74(3) & 75(10) of the Election Law
- Small mobile ballot returned to PEC in damaged condition. Ref: TEC 109 - PEC 35
- Improperly sealed ballot boxes & ballot boxes improperly stored. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 79; TEC 106 - PEC 81
- Small mobile ballot boxes not turned upside down when not in use, as per requirements. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 77
- Small mobile ballot boxes missing control sheet as per requirements. Ref: TEC 110 - PEC 26; TEC 111- PEC 4; TEC 114 - PEC 12
- Ballot boxes not in clear view of PEC members during voting hours as per requirements. Ref: TEC 110 - PEC 33 & 40
- Unsealed ballot box stored in adjacent area and not in clear view of PEC members. Ref: TEC 106 - PEC 81; TEC 114 - PEC 32
- Voting area improperly set up so that ballot boxes not in clear view of PEC members and/or official observers. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 17 & 36; TEC 110 - PEC 33 & 40; TEC 115 - PEC 91; TEC 112 - PEC 4
- Impeding the rights of International Observers & Media Representatives - Articles 28(9), 69 & 70 of the Election Law
- Official international observers not allowed on the premises of a PEC. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 36; TEC 115 - PEC 205; TEC 112 - PEC 8; TEC 109 - PEC 94
- Media representative not allowed on the premises of a PEC. Ref: 109 - PEC 94
- Authorized candidate representative (from candidate Mykola Hrabar) denied access to PEC. Ref: TEC 109 - PEC 1
- International observer denied access to 'absentee voters list'. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 79
- Authorized candidate representative (from candidate Mykola Hrabar) assaulted at TEC premises. Ref: TEC 113
- International observers refused permission to accompany mobile ballot boxes. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 60, 61, 66 & 67; TEC 116 - PEC 59
- International observer refused right to film proceedings at TEC. Ref: TEC 113
- International observers monitored, threatened and followed by car. Ref: TEC 111 - PEC 5
- Ballot & Voting Premises Violations - Article 28(10), 74, 76(4), 78 of the Election Law
- Ballots were pre-marked for candidate Yanukovych. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 40; TEC 111 - PEC 17
- Voting premises too small according to requirements. Ref: TEC 105 - PEC 6, 7, 41 & 62; TEC 108 - PEC 16; TEC 111- PEC 16, 19 & 92; TEC 109 - PEC 1
- Improper ballots used with no PEC number indicated on them, contrary to requirements. Ref: TEC 114 - PEC 1; TEC 115 - PEC 38
- Improper storage and handling of ballots. Ref: TEC 108 - PEC 36; TEC 111 - PEC 87; TEC 113 - PEC 21
- Militia members improperly stationed in voting premises. Ref. TEC 105 - PEC 7, 40 & 41; TEC 108 - PEC 36, 79 & 84; TEC 109 - PEC 40; TEC 111 - PEC 5; TEC 113 - PEC 49; TEC 114 - PEC 22; TEC 116 - PEC 59
- Illegal campaigning on E-Day. Ref: TEC 109 - PEC 40; TEC 111 - PEC 17 & 92; TEC 112 - PEC 7; TEC 123 - PEC 23
- Improper counting of ballots. Ref: TEC 107 - PEC 35; TEC 111 - PEC 1
- Candidates biographical information not posted as required. Ref: TEC 115 - PEC 149; TEC 111 - PEC 87
- More than one person in voting booth at a time. Ref: TEC 115 - PEC 149, TEC 111 - PEC 19
- PEC &TEC Violations - Articles 78, 79, 81 & 82 of the Election Law
- TEC's dismissed several PEC members appointed by the opposition in latter stages of pre-election campaign. TEC 109 - PEC 1, 10, 16, 35 & 40; TEC 110 - PEC 85; TEC 115 - PEC 132
- Official vote count protocols signed by PEC members in advance of completion. Ref: TEC 108, TEC 109 - PEC 16
- TEC members did not perform required audit duties regarding submitted official protocols from PEC's. Ref: TEC 108; TEC 109, TEC 115 & others
- PEC official protocols and accompanying documents were received at TEC in either a tattered or opened state. Ref: TEC 109; TEC 111; TEC 115 & others
- PEC official protocols not properly completed and/or sealed when received at TEC. Ref: TEC 115 - PEC 38, 68 & 166
- PEC official protocols improperly "corrected" at TEC rather than referring back to the PEC. Ref: TEC 108; TEC109; TEC 111; TEC 115 & others
The UCCA Luhansk Oblast delegation has concluded that the elections in the areas under observation were not universal, fair, secret, free or transparent. In addition, many PEC's and TEC's had Election Law violations ranging from relatively minor administrative errors to major violations of Ukraine's Election Law and Criminal Code.
Such violations bolster the belief of Ukraine's citizens that the results of the election were pre-determined. The local electorate lacks confidence in the current system and they fear repercussions if they report any threats they experienced or if they report even minor transgressions of the Election Law.
As a result, there is an urgent need for all parties to act on the violations noted above in order to restore confidence in the system and to show violators the consequences of their actions. Similarly, party officials, authorized candidate representatives and local observers need to be more vigilant in their reporting of violations and do so in an proactive manner, when possible, to help prevent repeated violations.
It also became apparent that many PEC and TEC members were not fully conversant with the Election Law. As a result, many PEC and TEC members need additional training. Also, the general electorate would benefit from a greater awareness of their rights under the Election Law. This would help eliminate voter list errors, as well as make them less susceptible to threats and intimidation.
Finally, since there is a lack of a fair and free press in Luhansk Oblast, as in many areas of Ukraine, the UCCA Luhansk Oblast delegation recommends that domestic and foreign news organizations initiate intensive reporting on this election in order to spread the truth and consequently discourage election violations.
In accordance with the findings of this report, the UCCA Luhansk Oblast delegation makes the following recommendations:
- Thorough prosecution of all major Election Law and Criminal Code violations in a timely manner;
- Additional training of PEC and TEC members as to the requirements of the Election Law and their obligations therein;
- Reform of the Election Law regarding the composition of PEC's and TEC's to avoid biased or manipulated representation;
- An extensive public education program on voter rights and on ballot secrecy;
- Greater rights of guaranteed access for all official observers (domestic and international) and journalists, especially pertaining to jails, health institutions and special voting precincts;
- Special protection under the Election Law for voters, authorized candidate representatives and domestic observers who report violations;
- Guaranteed equal access to mass media for all candidates;
- The establishment of monitoring agents under the Election Law with the authority to issue automatic fines and/or other penalties whenever state authorities provide any form of support for any candidate;
- Similarly granting authority to such monitoring agents to issue automatic fines and/or other penalties for state authorities who harass candidates or impede legitimate campaign activities;
- Greater access to voters lists for the general public prior to elections and public education on the need to check the accuracy of voters lists;
- Amend the Election Law to incorporate procedural simplicity to correct voters lists; and
- The establishment of a National Voter Registry and an independent governing agency charged with maintaining the registry and operating at arm's length from the government.
Note: This report is also available in Ukrainian; however, only the English version is official