The Central Election Commission has announced it accepts propositions to the procedure of temporary change of voting location. Experts from the Civil Network OPORA have developed a number of improvements, which will further simplify this process for the voters.
On October 17, the Central Election Commission has published on its website a draft Procedure for a temporary change of voting location without changing of an election address and suggested anyone interested in social processes to participate in decision-making and submit their propositions.
The Central Election Commission has already made a number of important innovations in the submitted document to facilitate democratic processes. Thus, it has provided the following opportunities:
- to file an application for the change of voting location in either paper form or in electronic using digital signature;
- to apply either for the first or the second round of elections or for both;
- to apply via authorised persons if a voter can not move independently;
- to use a simplified application procedure for individuals residing or staying abroad through the relevant foreign diplomatic agencies of Ukraine;
- to use a procedure of a temporary change of voting location if a voter doesn't have an election address in the voter list.
Civil Network OPORA welcomes the desire of the Central Election Commission and the State Voter Register Administration Body to simplify the procedure of a temporary change of voting location without changing of an election address. However, democratization and digitization of processes should not stop half way. Therefore, OPORA also suggests to take into account the following concepts of simplifying this procedure for voters:
- To allow voters to apply for a change of an election address in any SVR maintenance body, not restricted to the desired location or a registration address;
- To introduce automatic cancellation of a previous application for the change of voting location if a new one is submitted, with no need to apply for the cancellation of the old one in one of SVR maintenance bodies (either at the election address or at the address where the first approval of the change of voting location was issued);
- To consider the date when an application was filed as its submission date, what will secure voters against potential failures in online service which receives these applications;
- To coordinate with the corresponding agencies and provide an opportunity to accept paper applications from voters abroad on an extended schedule of the corresponding agencies;
- To provide an alternative opportunity to apply electronically for the voters living abroad, who can not make an electronic digital signature (no account and card of a national bank to make an electronic signature etc.). For example, an employee at a Register or the corresponding foreign institution could use a scanned copy of paper application, sent by a voter, to register an electronic application for the change of voting location with his electronic signature within 24 hours, etc.
Our experts wrote them down in a detailed and structured comparative tableto make it easier to relate the draft Project to the proposed changes.
Besides that, as a next step towards guaranteeing the election rights of citizens, the Central Election Commission could suggest Ukrainian Parliament to allow the citizens change their voting location without changing of an election address for a long period, not only for a single election campaign. Thus, voters who live outside their election address could be included in local elections and referendums. Of course, such innovations need to include a number of protections against potential manipulations. For example, a number of NGOs in cooperation with MPs of VIII convocation have developed such protections, and registered them as draft law #6240 in the Parliament.
Civil Network OPORA as a leading NGO in Ukraine, which conducts non-partisan election observation and protects electoral rights of citizens, is ready to support further steps of the Central Election Commission towards democratisation of electoral processes.