Pre-election marathon proving multi-faceted, with eight initiative groups already collecting signatures for their prospective candidates for top state position while work is also humming across other areas
Transparency above all
Even the elections’ major headquarters — the Central Election Commission — was empty for the day, with the leadership going ‘into the field’. The Chair of the Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, conducted a training seminar with executive personnel from territorial electoral commissions in the Mogilev Region, while Secretary Nikolai Lozovik did the same event in the Vitebsk Region. One day previously, the number of observers accredited by the Central Election Commission increased to eight.
The CIS long-term mission plans to begin its observations by August 12th. Meanwhile, participants of the electoral campaign are as eager as journalists to view the OSCE ODIHR assessment report, following its visit from July 15th to July 17th. The openness of our electoral system shouldn’t be in doubt but it’s hard to predict what may be reported.
The authorities continue to emphasise that the elections should be held publicly, openly and democratically, as should the formation of the district electoral commissions. The Central Election Commission is keen to ensure the secrecy of the ballot, as Mr. Lozovik explains. He tells us, “Information materials will be created in Braille script, with special patterns to show where voting papers should be inserted. Those without sight or who are handicapped in some way, making them unable to mark their voting paper independently, will be able to call upon the help of another citizen.”
Procedures were underlined in Vitebsk, which is known for its progressive attitude, including in the electoral sphere. It will be using transparent ballot boxes at all polling stations, in response to previous criticism from a range of public organisations. Mr. Lozovik notes, “Transparent ballot boxes will be installed at all polling stations across the region. The Central Election Commission is eager to thank all those involved. Probably, our opponents, who tend to criticise our organisation of elections, will make fewer claims. However, I don’t see transparency of elections as being synonymous with the transparency of ballot boxes.”
Wherever there is doubt, the state is ready to provide citizens with assurance of the legality and legitimacy of the electoral process. This sensible approach by local executive committees, including towards determining where signatures are collected, has ensured that the Central Election Commission hasn’t received a single complaint over the week.
Lidia Yermoshina, Chair of the Central Election Commission:
Equal conditions are being created for initiative groups registered countrywide, with their work facilitated by local authorities and electoral commissions. We aren’t aiming to minimise the number of potential candidates for the post of President. On the contrary, we wish to ensure our elections are alternative.
By Maxim Osipov