Observers of Civil Network OPORA haven't noticed any violations during the 24 December election day in united territorial communities, which could have affected the voting process or the election results with the scale or consequences. Most of the detected issues and incidents were caused by unprofessionalism or low competence of PEC members.
On 24 December 2017, OPORA's official observers provided an independent observation of the voting process and vote count during the first local elections in UTCs (except for Kyiv and Khmelnytsk oblasts).
Key issues in guaranteeing the legitimacy and proper organization of the election day resulted from procedural violations, committed by PEC members. They often caused conflicts among electoral subjects, complications in activities of election commissions and inconveniences in the voting process. For example, the incidents in Volyn (precinct #070454 in the village of Zaturka) and Odesa oblasts (precinct #510685 in the village of Lymanka, 11 Raduzhnyi residential area), where the certain conflicts and attempts of putting pressure upon observers or the voters occurred when the violations were detected and stopped.
Candidates and parties detected the most often a violation of law requirement prohibiting the distribution of campaigning materials on the eve of the election and the election day itself. Attempts of unauthorized individuals (party members and officials) to stay in PEC premises and watch the voting process is another usual violation, when public figures do knowingly ignore the law and try to perform unusual for them to function.
The situation with low-quality ballot printing and the lack of oversight over ballot production is almost threatening. There were incidents of errors in personal data of candidates or even the absence of some candidates in ballots (such incidents occurred the most often in Poltava oblast).
A special attention should be paid to the problem of sticking to the deadlines and the consequence of procedures by PEC members on the election day (established by the Article 77(4) of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections). OPORA's observers have reported late openings of election precincts and beginning of the voting process, caused by the delays with sealing of ballot boxes, counting of ballots, registration of observers and proxies attending the morning meetings. In particular, such incidents occurred in Dnipropetrovsk oblast (precinct #120473 and #120588), Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (#260280), Zaporizhia oblast (#230259, #230244, #230243), Odesa oblast (#510685, #511449, #510682), Sumy oblast (#590398), and Volyn oblast (#070454).
Numerous attempts of issuing ballots without passport verification require a wide-scale awareness and training campaign. Such incidents occurred in Volyn and Chernihiv oblasts the most often. For example, members of the PEC #230515 in the village of Novooleksiivka (Zakarpattia oblast) had unanimously allowed a voter to vote on the basis of passport copy, stating they know him personally. However, the law clearly states that the only document which certifies the identity and confirms citizenship and residence is a passport of the citizen of Ukraine. OPORA's observer has drawn up the corresponding act to report on this violation.
Observers have also detected illegal issuance of ballots, causer either by legal ignorance of PEC members, or by their intention to purposefully distort the election results. For example, in Odesa oblast (precinct #510685 in the village of Lymanka, 11 Raduzhnyi residential area), observers and proxies have detected an attempt to issue ballots to the voters, registered in another district (city of Podilsk, Odesa oblast). Operational-investigative group has detained three persons and made an investigation of an incident involving them and two commission members. In Cherkasy oblast (precinct #710257, the village of Rebedailivka), a voter had mistakenly received ballots from another district, where he is not allowed to vote. However, the voter has managed to vote for a city head and a councilor, and throw the ballot into ballot box. When the mistake was discovered, the commission had drawn up a report on mistakenly issued ballot, and issued the voter another ballot, from his district this time, allowing him to vote for a councilor again, what is contrary to the Article 77 of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections. Similar situation occurred at precinct #710436 (village of Buky), but the commission gave a justified rejection on the voter's request to vote again.
State Voter Register maintenance bodies should make stronger efforts to inform the voters about the importance of checking their personal information in the lists. The reason is that inaccuracies in voter lists occur more often lately, resulting in the impossibility to realize the voting rights by the voters. Thus, every single PEC in Odesa oblast had an incident when the voters didn't find themselves in the voter lists. In the village of Novopetrivka (Shyrokivska UTC, Mykolaiv oblast) at precinct #480620 the citizens couldn't vote for council members because of discrepancies in information about their registration address. In Poltava oblast (precinct #530774), some voters, who received invitations, were not found in voter lists. Besides that, one of them received an invitation on the name of his relative, who passed away more than two years ago.
The presence of unauthorized persons, who use their official status or authority of a deputy to watch the voting process at PEC premises regardless of the law, has a negative impact on the course of election process. Observers have regularly reported such incidents. For example, representatives of Vinnytsia oblast cell of the AUU Batkivshchyna political party were present at election precincts in Novohrebelska territorial community, and Head of the UKROP faction was present in oblast council, and all of them introduced themselves in different ways (as deputies at one PECs and as correspondents at another). Head of Enerhodar city cell of the AUU Batkivshchyna attended at PEC #230259 (Zaporizhia oblast, village of Ivanivka, Kamianko-Dniprovskyi raion) without any document allowing his presence. The man had left the premises after an observer and police intervened. OPORA's observers have noticed that 4-5 representatives (observers) of one electoral subject were present simultaneously at some PECs in Chernivtsi oblast.
Observers draw attention to the material and technical condition of election precincts – poor arrangement of PEC premises, the absence of comfortable conditions for commissions and the voting process, interruptions in power supply.
The first local elections of 24 December 2017 have one more time showed it's necessary to improve the electoral legislation and election administration system, as well as to raise the competence of election commission members and introduce efficient practices preventing electoral violations. The following factors have had a negative influence on the electoral process in united territorial communities, held on 24 December 2017: obscurity of some regulations in the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections and, as a result, the legal uncertainty of some important electoral procedures; nontransparent financing of election campaigning; misuse of administrative resources by civil servants; and problems with the production of ballot papers.