"Common Cause": Preliminary Announcement on Independent Observation of the Repeated Elections of Deputies to the City Keneshes of Bishkek, Osh, Tokmok

"Common Cause": Preliminary Announcement on Independent Observation of the Repeated Elections of Deputies to the City Keneshes of Bishkek, Osh, Tokmok

Bishkek, July 12, 2021 - "Common Cause": Preliminary Announcement on Independent Observation of the Repeated Elections of Deputies to the City Keneshes of Bishkek, Osh and Tokmok.

The repeated elections were generally peaceful, with a low turnout, in accordance with the law, but some observers noted violations of voting day procedures and secrecy of voting. During the pre-election period, there were cases of vote-buying, as in the previous elections.

 The Public Foundation “Common Cause” notes that the assessment of the conduct of the repeat elections is based on full observation of the pre-election period and on the observation of 43 PECs on the day of mobile voting and 52 PECs on election day in three cities.

Based on the results of limited monitoring of the organization and conduct of repeated elections of deputies of Bishkek, Osh and Tokmok city keneshes, the Public Foundation “Common Cause” notes the following:

  • The organization and conduct of the repeat elections took place in a tense atmosphere amid the peak of the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, rising prices, increasing unemployment, shortage of irrigation water and political reforms.
  • Despite these problems and tight deadlines, as well as the election of a new composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC), which fell on the period of preparation for the repeat elections, the CEC managed to organize the process of voting and counting votes in accordance with the norms of electoral legislation. The stages of registration of voters and lists of candidates in general took place within the established procedures and deadlines, but at the stage of registration of lists of candidates, complaints were filed about the registration of new parties in connection with their non-participation in the elections on April 11, 2021. According to the Foundation, a gap in legislation regarding the prohibition of the participation of political parties whose actions led to the invalidation of the voting results is a more significant problem and requires immediate action.
  • At the same time, the Foundation notes that the actions of the CEC to cancel the registration of candidates for deputies of the Tokmok city kenesh, implicated in scandals with massive illegal registration of voters (so-called "rubber apartments"), canceling the registration of lists of candidates to the Osh city kenesh, nominated by “Yntymak party”, did not serve signal to political parties.
  • Despite the fact that a certain part of voters enthusiastically accepted the decision of the Central Election Commission to invalidate the election results in these cities and expected that the repeat elections would be held without the use of vote-buying and misuse of administrative resources, the Foundation notes that the practice of influencing the will of voters through vote-buying and misuse of administrative resources continues to be used in repeated elections.
  • Law enforcement agencies began to react more quickly to incoming signals about possible facts of vote-buying, misuse of administrative resources, and in a number of cases they themselves directly identified the facts of possible violations. Currently, a number of cases are at the stage of pre-trial proceedings and the Foundation will monitor the progress of their investigation. It should also be noted that such abuses as vote-buying and misuse of administrative resources are becoming more and more in hidden forms. Despite the ongoing efforts of the CEC and law enforcement agencies to combat these violations, the elimination of these phenomena is impossible without the conscious will of voters and political parties.
  • Due to the political “migration” of candidates from one political party to another, the lists of candidates from political organizations have undergone significant changes compared to the elections held on April 11, 2021. Thus, some of the candidates for the repeated elections were nominated in the lists from another political parties. This circumstance testifies to the instability of political parties, weak political consciousness of candidates, which ultimately complicates the choice for voters and negatively affects voters' confidence both in the institution of political parties, elections, and in elected candidates.
  • In its preliminary LTO report, the Foundation previously noted that there would be a low turnout in the repeat elections. “Common Cause” believes that there is a problem of political non-participation in the elections, as a result of which an insignificant part of the electorate makes decisions, forms power and affects the life of the cities in general. In addition to the reasons related to the summer period, pandemic, economic problems, the Foundation notes that a significant part of voters do not go to elections for the following reasons:

- the passivity of political parties during the campaign period.

- the practice of forming lists of candidates by political parties remains opaque and incomprehensible to voters, and therefore it is difficult for the electorate to make a choice.

- political parties were unable to convince the majority of the electorate to take part in the repeated elections to city councils.

- the influence of financial resources on the voting results, when a significant part of the electorate believes that only candidates and parties with significant financial resources can receive mandates.

- electorate fatigue from elections. We remind you that over the past 10 months there have been four election campaigns and two referendums.

The monitoring of repeated elections indicates not only a decrease in the activity of the electorate, but also of political parties, when some political parties previously actively participating in the elections refused to participate in the re-elections, which indicates a changing political environment and limited resources of parties.

  • The process of voting outside the premises and the election day was organized in accordance with the law and proceeded without serious violations according to the monitoring data in those polling stations where the Foundation's observers were. Observers noted fewer violations on voting day outside the premises compared to voting on the election day. Thus, on election day, there were isolated cases of violation of procedures, violation of the secrecy of voting, and there were also signals about cases of possible vote-buying. The individual cases of pressure on public observers, the presence of unauthorized persons, as well as persons of athletic build at polling stations in the cities of Osh and Tomok, where this phenomenon repeats from one election campaign to another, cause concern. The Foundation notes that signals about violations on election day were received more often due to the situation outside the polling stations from different subjects of the electoral process.

The Foundation will continue monitoring the consideration of electoral disputes, summing up the results and the post-election period. The full results of the observation, as well as recommendations and conclusions, will be reflected in the final report.

The Foundation expresses its deep gratitude to volunteers, observers and all employees for their work in the context of the pandemic.

Election day

Stationary observation was conducted at 52 PECs out of 326 PECs, including 31 in Bishkek, 18 in Osh and three in Tokmok.

In addition, eight mobile teams from the Foundation's staff worked in Bishkek, five in Osh, and one in Tokmok. Mobile teams monitored outside the polling stations.

Opening procedure

According to the data received from the Foundation's observers, all 52 observers were admitted to the polling station for monitoring.

At 50 PECs, the Foundation's observers were shown blank ballots for visual inspection.

At 5 PECs, the meeting began before 07:00, at 36 PECs from 7:00 to 7:30, at 10 PECs after 7:30, and at one PEC there was no meeting.

47 PECs were chaired by women, and 5 were chaired by men.

COVID-19 recommendations were followed at 51 PECs. People with limited mobility had access to the PEC only at 35 PECs.

The drawing of lots was not carried out at PEC 1 (PEC no. 1309, Bishkek), at the same PEC where there was no meeting.

At all 52 PECs, empty ballot boxes (ACS, etc.) were shown and sealed / sealed, and the checklist was signed by all those present at the precinct and dropped into the ballot box at 50 PECs.

At 48 PECs, the ballot papers received by the PECs from the TECs during the opening procedures were recounted.

The rights of the Foundation's observers were not infringed upon in any PEC.

PECs opened without delay, 13 of them opened before 08:00, at 08:00 - 39 PECs.

Voting process

According to the results received from our observers, there were no cases of intimidation, pressure or intimidation of voters in any PEC, just as the rights of a public observer were not infringed upon anywhere during the monitoring of the voting process.

Voting secrecy during elections was not followed at 5 PECs.

During the voting, observers 5 times noted the presence of state and municipal employees at the polling station, 4 times the presence of the police department, 4 times - candidates from political parties.

At 38 PECs, COVID-19 recommendations were followed during the voting process throughout the day.

During the day, there were such technical failures as:

ARBB failures - 8

Failures and ARBB , and equipment for identification - 3

Equipment failures by identification - 3

There were no cases when a voter was allowed to vote without being identified, and not a single case was recorded when a voter was allowed to vote, despite the fact that he was not on the voter list during the voting process during the day.

At 3 PECs, the ARBB was replaced with a stationary ballot box due to technical failures.

51 PECs closed on time at 20:00 and one PEC by 20:00.

Mobile groups observation outside the polling stations

According to the data received, mobile teams covered 53 PECs, observing and assessing the situation around the polling stations. Based on the observations, the conclusions are as follows:

Mobile teams in Bishkek, consisting of four long-term observers and four employees of the Head Office, reached 31 PECs (No. 1206, 1113, 1222, 1240, 1157, 1158, 1151, 1208, 1152, 1332, 1330, 1334, 1337, 1322, 1318 , 1321, 1351, 1343, 1317, 1003, 1011, 1048, 1354, 1358, 1305, 1239, 1241, 1305, 1317, 1061, 1034).

Mobile groups in the city of Osh, consisting of a regional coordinator, three long-term observers and one volunteer, covered 10 PECs (No. 5307, 5309, 5308, 5299, 5304, 5280, 5901, 5306, 5303, 5310).

In Tokmok city, the regional coordinator as a mobile group covered 12 PECs (No. 7065, 7067, 7068, 7070, 7064, 7071, 7075, 7072, 7074, 7062, 7077, 7063).

  • According to observation data from mobile groups, the following points were identified:
  • The situation around the site: calm at 47 sites, tense at 6.
  • Queue due to a delay in the operation of the automated control system at 2 sites.
  • Near the PECs, voters were brought in at 2 precincts.
  • Near the PEC, the presence of unknown persons of strong constitution was noticed in 12 precincts.
  • There is a large queue of voters near PECs due to compliance with COVID-19 measures in 3 precincts.

It should be noted that the observation took place in crisis conditions with the deterioration of the epidemiological situation with COVID-19, however, according to the reports of mobile teams:

  • At 37 PECs, COVID-19 recommendations were followed during the voting process throughout the day, in part at 16 PECs.
  • At 36 PECs, voters followed COVID-19 recommendations during the day's voting process, in part at 17 PECs.

There were no cases of intimidation, pressure or intimidation of voters during the voting process.

There were no cases of violation of the secrecy of voting

There were no cases of photo and video recording of the filled-in ballot paper.

There were no cases of more than one voter in the voting booth.

The infringement of the rights of a public observer during the observation of the voting process was at 1 precinct.

Illegal campaigning on voting day: polling stations No. 5310, 5308

Signals about vote buying: polling stations No. 1240, 1011

Unlawful restriction of observer rights: area 1061

At 14 polling stations there were persons in the voting room, including at 13 polling stations representatives of the Internal Affairs Directorate, at 1 polling station - unidentified persons, state and municipal employees.

ARBB failures were at 3 sites

Equipment failures for identification were at 1 site.

Closing and voutes counting procedures

At the time of the closing of PECs, 23 PECs had voters who were given the opportunity to vote. There were no queues in the remaining 29 PECs.

In all 52 PECs, after the closure of the polling station, counting began immediately, and in all 52 PECs covered, unused ballots were recounted and canceled in accordance with the law.

Work with the list was carried out at 50 PECs (entering summary data on each page, final data on the voter list as a whole, certification of the list with the signature of the chairman and the seal of the PEC).

Opening of portable boxes in accordance with the law and manual counting took place in all 52 PECs.

All 52 observers were able to obtain a certified copy of the hand-scoring protocol.

The recommendations related to COVID-19 were observed at 49 PECs at the closing of PECs, while the remaining 3 PECs were not.

At one PEC, the rights of a public observer were infringed upon while observing the closure and counting procedures.

The day of voting outside the premises

A total of 43 PECs were covered, including 25 in Bishkek, 15 in Osh and three in Tokmok. There were no serious violations at the observed sites, except for procedural violations at one site in the city of Osh.

According to reports from Foundation observers, a register of outdoor voting applications was posted at all 43 PECs. There has not been a single case of voter entry into the register of applications for voting outside the premises after the closure of the register.

At all 43 PECs, empty mobile ballot boxes were shown to observers outside the premises.

At 42 PECs, empty portable boxes were sealed with the seal of the precinct election commission, and only at PEC # 5322 in Osh, the sealing procedure was incomplete, and therefore our observer appealed to the PEC members.

At PEC 42, the checklist was signed by all those present at the precinct and dropped into a portable voting box outside the premises, and a procedural violation was noticed at the same PEC # 5322 in Osh.

In Osh city at PEC # 5316, during the voting outside the premises, 2 voters voted, who did not apply for voting outside the premises and were not included in the corresponding Register. On this fact, the Foundation's observers drew up relevant acts and filed complaints to the Osh TEC.

Precautions and recommendations related to COVID-19 were observed only at 32 PECs, partially in one, and did not comply at all in 10.

At all 43 PECs monitored, there was not a single case of obstruction to observation or obtaining the necessary information for observation, no one influenced the expression of the voters' will, and the secrecy of the vote was respected everywhere.

In all 43 PECs, the PEC member registered voter data on the paper voter list when the ballot was issued, and the mark “Voted outside the polling station” was also entered.

End-of-vote certificates were drawn up at all 43 PECs.

Violations on voting days

The Public Foundation "Common Cause" on the voting days recorded 35 violations as of 18:00, July 11, 2021 and may be updated. Of these, 17 are in the city of Bishkek; 18 in the city of Osh.

There are 17 facts in Bishkek

Of these, by type of violation: 7 facts of procedural violations during the opening of polling stations, violation of the secrecy of voting (including photo and video of the ballot) - 4 facts, vote buying - 2 facts, tracking of the voter list by a party representative - 1 fact, a gathering of unknown people around PECs - 1 fact.

There are 18 facts in Osh city

Of these, by type of violation: 5 facts of procedural violations during the opening of polling stations, tracking the voter list and voting procedures by a party representative - 2 facts, the presence of unauthorized persons at PECs - 2 facts.

Local TECs received 17 signals (Bishkek TEC - 3, Osh TEC - 14) and to RRCG - during the pre-election period - 5 signals and on election day - 7 signals.

Pre-election period

The pre-election period in the repeated elections to city keneshes took place in the midst of the peak of the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, the tense socio-political situation in the country, political reforms and the summer period, when, a priori, the electorate is passive in electoral processes.

Regarding the social and economic situation in the country, the Foundation notes an increase in tensions among the population due to higher food prices, drought in certain regions, power and gas outages, growing unemployment, an increase in crime, low vaccination rates and an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19.

In accordance with the legislation, a period of 20 days is set for pre-election campaigning in local keneshes of the cities of Bishkek, Osh and Tokmok (from June 20 to 8:00 on July 10).

Candidates from 26 parties were registered for repeated elections to city councils of three cities. Of these, 18 were registered in the Bishkek City Kenesh, nine in Osh and six in Tokmak.

Long-term observation during the pre-election period showed that the activity of not only the electorate, but also of political parties in the repeated elections decreases, when some previously active parties refused to participate, which may indicate the changing political situation in the country, as well as the limited resources of the parties that they were able to accumulate for repeated elections. Two parties announced that they completely abandoned the production of printed materials and the rental of banners, preferring campaigning work in social networks of the Internet space.

Political parties interviewed by the Foundation's observers noted as the main problem the low awareness of voters about the elections of deputies of local keneshes and the difficulty of campaigning in the current conditions.

Despite the cancellation of the last elections, the practice of misusing administrative resources and vote-buying by individual parties, as well as attracting heads of house and quarter committees, persists in all three cities. The Foundation also notes that vote-buying in repeated elections takes on more hidden forms. At the same time, investigations into violations recorded in the past local elections have not been completed.

Violations during the pre-election period

During the observation period for the repeated elections of deputies of the Bishkek, Osh and Tokmok city keneshes of the Kyrgyz Republic (from June 18 to July 9, 2021), 83 signals were received about violations of the electoral legislation, of which:

  • 65 signals about violations of election campaign rules
  • 11 signals to buy votes
  • 5 signals of the use of administrative resources, threats and pressure on voters
  • 1 for violations of candidate registration procedures
  • 1 on the formation of the composition of the PEC.

Out of 65 signals about violations of the rules of pre-election campaigning, appeals were submitted to the TEC in Osh - 52 applications.

By 52 signals, statements were sent to the TEC and by 2 signals of violations, the information was transferred to the RRCG formed by the CEC.

From the messages received, the breakdown by city is as follows:

Osh city - 52. By types of violations: 47 reports on violations of the rules of pre-election campaigning, 3 signals about vote buying, 1 according to the candidate lists and 1 according to the composition of the PEC.

Bishkek city - 24. By types of violations: 17 signals on violations of the rules of pre-election campaigning, 5 messages on vote buying, 2 on the misuse of administrative resources.

Tokmok city - 7. By types of violations: 1 signal on violation of the rules of pre-election campaigning, 3 messages on vote buying, 3 signals on the misuse of administrative resources.

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