On Tuesday, 21 November, Verkhovna Rada registered 178 amendments to the draft Election Code #3112-1, jointly developed by MPs, experts of Civil Network OPORA and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). These amendments and propositions suggest a number of guarantees for transparency of election process and prevention of misuses.

It is expected that key information concerning elections (decisions of district and territorial election commissions; information about the registered candidates, election programs of candidates or nomination subjects; precinct tabulation protocols and final tabulation protocols on voting results) will be published on web-site of the Central Election Commission in machine-readable format.

Amendments to the draft Election Code also concern a number of significant changes in territorial election organization and determination of election results under open-list proportional representation system. The current open-list electoral system, suggested in the considered draft Election Code, is not typical for European countries, where the representation in a district is determined by the number of registered voters, but not the voter turnout on the election day, as established in the draft Election Code, adopted in the first reading. In particular, it is suggested to establish that the number of mandates, distributed in each multi-mandate election district (in local elections) and electoral regions (in parliamentary elections) under the proportional system, will be based on the number of registered voters, but not the voter turnout; and it will be invariable. Besides that, there will be compensation mandates for candidates, who take higher places in the nationwide list of candidates from a party, with consideration of vacant mandates in an electoral district. This very approach for mandate distribution is applied in 19 European countries, using the open-list proportional representation system for elections. It will allow to remove the problem of under- and over representation of the certain districts/electoral regions in the Parliament and the corresponding local councils.

The following amendments concern formation and activities of the Central Election Commission:

  • the President of Ukraine takes into consideration propositions from all parliamentary factions and groups of MPs in his submission of CEC nominees;
  • Members of the CEC whose office has expired mustn't participate in Commission meetings;
  • the CEC consults with the public and expert council under the Commission, formed on the basis of competition.

We believe that the CEC should become a state collegial body, which not only organizes the election, but also initiates a wide expert dialog concerning improvement of the election process, development and realization of promising plans goaled at improvement of election administration process. Such approach is usual for higher election administration bodies in developed democratic countries, and should be realized in Ukraine,” – is stated in justification of amendments to the draft Code.

Amendments also provide a number of steps for guaranteeing electoral rights of disabled people: using Braille stencils for the voting, information about electoral subjects in accessible formats, accessibility of election precincts etc. Adoption of the proposed amendments will bring Ukrainian electoral legislation in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Ukrainian Parliament. The corresponding amendments were initiated and approved with organizations, which represent interests of individuals with disabilities.

The authors have also included additional mechanisms, aimed to guarantee the “gender quota”. A party may revoke a candidate only providing it nominates a candidate of the same gender in substitution, to keep the gender balance.

The propositions and amendments also prohibit the placement of paid TV, radio and outdoor advertising. This will make party organizations and candidates conduct more meaningful election campaigns and decrease campaign expenses. The authors introduce additional mechanisms for the prevention of concealed political advertising. Thus, election campaign financing will be based on the corresponding electoral funds and budget. For example, budget finances would cover expenses for TV debates, but paid political advertising on television is banned.

The candidates wouldn't have their own electoral fund accounts, but would use current accounts of party cells, which nominate them. Besides that, these funds would be equally divided between each candidate, to guarantee equal opportunities in campaigning efforts.

Amendments prohibit election campaigning, which involves handing out of money, food and alcoholic beverages to the voters, institutions, establishments and organizations, regardless of their subordination and ownership, as well as conclusion of paid contracts for election campaigning services with the voters, financed by electoral fund account of a party or a candidate.

The proposed amendments to the draft Election Code are aimed to protect electoral rights of internally displaced persons and migrant workers, regulate the submission of candidates' declarations in line with the current anti-corruption legislation, broaden the rights of official observers from NGOs etc. 

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