Opora

Political parties took a great interest in the first local elections held in 252 united territorial communities on October, 29 and December, 24, 2017. These elections also show that the government faces significant challenges on the way to establishing adequate electoral standards. On October, 29, 2017, mayors of UTCs and deputies to local councils were elected in 201 territorial communities, while on December, 24 – in 51 territorial communities.

 

On 29 October 2017, the first elections in 201 united territorial communities will take place. The election process started on 9 September covering territorial communities in all oblasts of Ukraine. The largest number of united territorial community elections will take place in Dnipropetrovska (19) and Volynska (19) oblasts, while in both Zakarpatska and Mykolaivska oblasts, elections will take place in only one community.

 

The major problem in the end of the voting day is still the issuance of ballots without passport verification, despite the percentage of such incidents is much lower, reaching only 3.3% compared to the first half of the election day. In most cases, OPORA's observers prevented the commitment of such criminal offenses. However, even though independent observers respond to such violations, the illegitimate issuance of ballot papers is tolerated by election commissions. Moreover, there were even attempts to legitimize such actions by collegial decisions of commissions.

 

Observers of Civil Network OPORA continue watching the voting process and the functioning of precinct election commissions in the first local elections in united territorial communities.  According to the data gathered by OPORA on the basis of statistically-based sampling as of 12:00 PM, the major violations detected by observers are attempts to issue ballots without passport verification. Thus, such incidents were detected at 7.4% of PECs (particularly in Sumy and Zhytomyr oblasts). Ballot papers shall be issued to the voters exclusively after they present their passports or a temporary Ukrainian citizenship certificate. 92.6% of election precincts consistently follow this regulation.

 

According to OPORA's data, received from a statistically-based sampling of polling stations, 85,6% of PECs started their preparatory meetings not earlier than 45 minutes before voting, providing observers and other electoral subjects an opportunity to watch the preparation of polling stations to the voting. However, 14,4% of PECs started their preparatory meetings at 7:15 AM. When the PECs ignore the legislative requirements concerning the timing of preparatory meetings on the election day, electoral subjects can't verify the number of ballot papers at an election precinct, examine ballot boxes and sign control sheets, which are put to the corresponding boxes.

 

With the election day in 201 united territorial communities coming closer, the candidates became more active in their election campaigns. In particular, there are more incidents of pre-electoral charity, which may be classified as indirect bribery. 

 

The first local elections in 202 united territorial communities will be held on 29 October 2017. The election process has officially started on 9 September in all Ukrainian oblasts without exception.  Dnipropetrovsk and Volyn oblasts have the largest number of united communities participating in the election – 19 communities each. Zakarpattia and Mykolaiv oblasts, on the contrary, have only one community each.

 

The election process currently corresponds to the fundamental law requirements, is enough competitive, and free from violations or factors, which may cast doubt on election administration or the voting process. However, the legal uncertainty of the certain electoral procedures, caused by poor quality of the current Law of Ukraine on Local Elections, is destabilizing the electoral process. 

 

Civil Network OPORA has prepared infographics to illustrate the liability for electoral crimes in 2015 local elections. It contains visualization of sentences imposed by courts, sort them per articles of Criminal Code and type of punishment, and make a portrait of an average offender.

 

The first local elections in the united territorial communities, scheduled for December 18, 2016, were mostly held in compliance with legal requirements and in observance of the principle of competitiveness. The abusive practices, recorded by Civil Network OPORA observers, weren’t large-scale or pre-planned, but still these violations should be duly investigated for the purpose of observance of the principle of inevitability of punishment for crimes against electoral rights of citizens. The common problems recorded in the course of election campaign and on Election Day once again actualize the need for increasing the level of legal culture and awareness among voters and improving professional abilities of members of election commissions, as well as the need for strengthening preventive action and ensuring prompt police response to electoral violations. Implementation of these measures should be combined with a comprehensive reform of the electoral legislation.

 
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