On its first meeting, the Working Group on Election Code has considered 244 of 3,906 amendments. The information was provided by representatives of Civil Network OPORA, who attended the meeting.
The Working Group that elaborates and prepares the Draft Law #3485 on Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Improvement of Electoral Legislation to the second reading, has held its first meeting on June 22. The experts had shared common views on the topic,discussed it at first, and started to consider amendments per each article in the second part of the meeting. Representatives of Civil Network OPORA have also entered the Working Group.
OPORA's Head of the Board Olha Aivazovska said that based on the legal certainty and international standards, an election system, commission formation, and territorial organization should not be changed earlier than a year beforehand.
“Therefore, in our opinion, everything should be left as it is. Everything else is political expediency. Of course, the Verkhovna Rada will take a political decision, but it's an expert discussion here, most colleagues will agree that the election system should be known in advance. According to this international standard, all participants, both the government and the opposition, know in advance which election system will be used and how. Therefore, jumping from proportional to majoritarian and from majoritarian to proportional is a very serious change given the political election process has in fact begun.” - She said.
OPORA's Senior Analyst Oleksandr Kliuzhev stated that it's also necessary to discuss what to do with the introduction of innovative technologies, including remote voting.
“Who said this problem is urgent? There was no basic research. Once the research is realized, this technology should be implemented in a pilot version, as an experiment. In this case, we will need a separate law for this experiment. Once the experiment is realized, it's time for the CEC to decide whether it was successful or not. If the experiment is successful, we introduce the given innovative technology into the legislation. When preparing to this discussion, we have drafted amendments, which introduce such stages. The research must go first, and the CEC has the right to ask financing for this research. It should give an answer to one simple question, whether the election process really needs one of these technologies under discussion. The CEC then drafts propositions and can send them to the Parliament in a form of a draft law. If the Parliament accepts these propositions, we will realize a pilot experiment. The law on pilot experiment should not only regulate each procedure, but also give instructions on how to determine whether it was successful or not. Thus, it is very important not to get into a situation where each our experiment is successful. There must be a procedure to determine a success or a failure, or the expediency of incorporating this experience on a permanent basis into the election law,” -Kliuzhev said.
He also said it's necessary to decrease the election deposit for candidates, take the deposit amount used for 2015 local elections as a basis, and skip its introduction on the level of villages and settlements.
OPORA's Legal Adviser Pavlo Romaniuk drew attention to the importance of observing the right of electoral subjects to appeal against decisions, actions, inaction of election commissions, and other violations of the election law. In particular, he criticized the reduction of time limits for appeals from 5 to 2 days since the date of the event or decision.
He also added that it's necessary to guarantee the certainty of punishment for electoral crimes and the relevance of punishment to the act. Thus, there were 15 criminal cases under Article 158-1(1 and 2) of the Criminal Code in 2019, when a person is brought to criminal liability for a destruction of his/her ballot as an act of protest. OPORA suggests to decriminalize such an act, if it is committed not to organize further falsifications, but as "personal protest" of a voter. As a result, the person is immediately convicted to an administrative fine, instead of spending years in courts.
Election deposits, electronic voting, powers of the Central Election Commission etc., were discussed the most. MP Oleh Dunda said that many countries have abandoned the idea of electronic voting, and advised to wait for a successful example that can be followed in Ukraine. MP of the last convocation Yurii Levchenko urged to remove the 25% threshold for enlisted candidates, because "the lists will be open", he said. He also called it absurd that the deposit is not returned if there is an error or a smaller amount deposited. MP of the last convocation Olena Boikocriticized changes to the appointment of local elections twice a year. Head of the subcommittee Alina Zahoruiko mentioned that more than 200 settlements still do not have their heads, because the Parliament failed to call elections for many years.
Video of the discussion is available on OPORA's Facebook page:
The next meeting of the working group will take place on June 23 at 10:00.
A total of 3,906 amendments were submitted to the draft law. Most of them are from the Servant of the People party - 1,929. It is followed by the AUU Batkivshchyna - 920, For the Future group of MPs - 730, European Solidarity - 569, Holos - 316, Opposition Platform - For Life - 273, Dovira group of MPs - 195. Unaffiliated MPs proposed the fewest amendments - 14.
MP Ivan Krulko from the AUU Batkivshchyna leads in the number of amendments. Thus, he has submitted 600 proposals. 4 MPs who have submitted more than four hundred amendments follow him: Aliona Shkrum (AUU Batkivshchyna) - 497, Ruslan Kniazevych (European Solidarity) - 481, Serhii Kalchenko (Servant of the People) - 430, Oleksandr Korniienko (Servant of the People) - 403. Two more MPs have made over three hundred proposals -Taras Batenko (For the Future group) and Roman Lozynskyi (Holos) 362 and 312, respectively. Another 9 MPs submitted more than two hundred proposals, and 13 - over a hundred. 9 MPs submitted from 10 to 100 amendments, and 47 MPs - from 1 to 10. We should mention that all these amendments were submitted not only by MPs personally, but also from groups of MPs.
Once all amendments are considered, the document will be considered by the Subcommittee on Elections and Referendums and other Forms of Direct Democracy, and then by the VRU Committee on Organization of State Government, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning. Only then the document can be submitted for consideration to the session hall. It should be noted that there are only two plenary weeks left until the end of this session, i.e. the last day the voting can take place is July 17.
We would like to remind that on June 17, the VRU Committee on State Government, Regional Development, Local Self-Government and Urban Planning has created the Working Group headed by Alina Zahoruiko to elaborate and prepare to the second reading the Draft Law #3485 on Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Improvement of Electoral Legislation. It has united committee members, other MPs, representatives of state authorities and local self-government bodies, international partners of the committee, non-governmental organizations, scientists and experts in election rights.