On 14 May, a public discussion titled “Invisible voters” was held in Sievierodonetsk. The participants discussed the opportunities for participation of internally displaced persons and migrant workers in local democracy and the corresponding mechanisms, established by the draft law #6240 guaranteeing the voting rights of internally displaced persons and other mobile groups of citizens.

This topic was covered by a co-author of the draft law, Analyst of the Civil Network OPORA, Oleksandr Kliuzhev, who had also moderated the discussion.

IDPs have no doubt in the topicality of the issue. The problem lies within opinions of different political parties concerning the need of its solution. Parliament's management and some competent committees do not hurry to give the bill a green light to pass all the procedures and reach the session hall.

Meanwhile, almost 4% of Ukrainian voters have been disenfranchised for the fourth year in local elections and single-mandate component of parliamentary elections. 4% is the quantity of IDPs in Ukraine. Thus, the IDPs couldn't participate in regular elections in UTCs held two weeks ago.

Taking into consideration the passivity of the Verkhovna Rada in regard to this issue, there is an obvious need to raise its topicality at various levels including regional, to make the people speak louder on the problem, urging for legislative amendments.

“The problem is that internally displaced persons have to preserve formal ties with the territories they left due to the military aggression. According to the legislation, their election addresses is there. The state hopes that IDPs will positively influence the election outcomes if they return after the liberation of territories, – Oleksandr Kliuzhev stated. – It's a complicated situation when on one hand the international standards and overall logic demand that Ukraine provide IDPs with every type of electoral right and a comprehensive integration in communities, and on the other hand the politicians fear the consequences such decision may bring. These factors are the reason why politicians do not want, or do not hurry, to give IDPs the right to vote.”

Oleksandr Kliuzhev also told about preventive measures against falsifications or fraud in the election processes, included in the draft law. There are no grounds for fear in this regard, he stated, because the document gives specific time constraints for changing an election address etc.

Discussion participants agreed that the public pressure and appeals to MPs should be used to resolve the issue with voting rights of IDPs and migrant workers (some categories of servicemen, who change the residence for long periods of time, were also mentioned), in accordance with the Constitution, guaranteeing the citizens the right to elect government representatives without any restrictions in a form of “registration address” or “electoral address”.

We remind that on 27 March 2017, 24 MPs of Ukraine have registered the Draft Law #6240 on the Franchise of Internally Displaced Persons and Other Internal Mobile Groups of Citizens. It has been considered for over a year. Amendments to the legislation were developed and introduced by MPs and NGO experts, working on the electoral legislation reform and the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).  Despite the topicality, the draft law #6240 hasn't been submitted for consideration yet.

Thus, according to the Ministry of Social Policy, there are 1,504,262 IDPs in Ukraine as of 14 May 2018.

Source: Hrupa Vplyvu