The situation with the establishment of voting results at the interim elections of people’s deputies in constituency 87 has stirred much of public interest. In fact, the district commission sent back for the re-count 20 election commissions; the voting results at two polling stations were declared invalid; the incompliance was identified between the protocol data and the re-count outcomes at three polling stations; at one polling station with several dozens of missing ballots the decision has not been approved at all. OPORA representatives discussed the situation in the constituency during the live stream.
According to Oleksandr Neberykut, OPORA’s analyst, the case of constituency 87 stands out among all other conflicting situations during the recent election campaigns in Ukraine. There is a political air to this case, and it shall be taken into account in the assessment. One major precondition for the conflict is a political approach to the membership of election commissions. In fact, the DEC was not able to organize the proper vote count for a long time due to the lack of quorum. Technical members in the commission aggravated its operations, which entails the cascade of other challenges to follow. Another important aspect is in the frequent replacements of DEC members and their activities within political interests rather than under procedures. According to the analyst, we shall also account for the “street factor” as an element of pressure on the commission. Although the people gathering at the DEC premises instigated public interest to the developments, the organization of the commission’s operations has hardly been affected. Another key issue is the external interference (such as the arrival of people’s deputies and their attendance at the commission meeting). It challenged the commission’s constructive solutions. Interference of the CEC representatives within their powers would appear more logical.
As reported by Ivan Maruniak, a coordinator of civic observation in Ivano-Frankivsk region, currently the DEC is administering the re-count at the polling stations where the commission preliminarily assigned to do so. The DEC operations are taking place amidst the tension and conflict, accusations of stealing the ballots and finger-pointing at the coordinated decision-making of commissioners. By 18:30, the situation at the venue hosting the DEC has been rather peaceful; there are no protests; the buses with the National Police officers are staying nearby. On April, 2, people’s deputies of Ukraine have not arrived to attend the commission meeting.
At today’s meeting, the Central Election Commission left out of account the complaint from a candidate Shevchenko on grounds of the inappropriate submitting party. It was reported by Oleksandr Kliuzhev, OPORA’s senior analyst. At the same time, the CEC urged the district commission No 87 to follow the election law and reminded of the criminal liability.
Today, two complaints were considered in judicial procedures. They came from candidates Vasyl Virastiuk and Oleksandr Shevchenko. However, no complaints have arrived about the setting of the re-count at 20 polling stations or about declaring the voting invalid at two polling stations. According to Olha Kotsiuruba, OPORA’s advisor on legal matters, the cases do hold the judicial perspective as the decision-making by the DEC was rather controversial.
OPORA representatives urged the National Police to avoid any political bias and efficiently investigate the cases of missing election documentation. OPORA hereby calls upon the people’ deputies of Ukraine not to put any pressure on the DEC members. When needed, they shall register as the candidates’ proxies. Furthermore, OPORA considers that the interference of people’s deputies with the election process (when they are not electoral actors) shall be discussed in the Verkhovna Rada.
At the same time, OPORA’s lawyers and analysts do not consider any possibility for ultimate failure to establish the voting results in the constituency because it is not provided under the law. However, there may be a scenario when the voting results fail to be established within 15 days, with account for court decisions. Then, the election documentation shall have been delivered to the CEC that will be establishing the voting results in the constituency.