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Ballots in casserole, childbirth at polling station: How Ukraine voted

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Winter 2019 was protracted and boring but March 31 was surprisingly sunny and warm. Possibly, it was a sign. Possibly, it was just natural calendar changes
11:51, 1 April 2019

Open source

In any case, the voting for the president of Ukraine took place quite lively equally to the weather.  The violations took place, of course, but the majority of them were not critical. Oleksy Koshel, the Chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine stated on the air of one of the TV channels that he does not see the threat to the elections.

“I do not see the grounds even to suppose the threat of the disruption of the elections in separate districts. We do not see abnormal examples. In other words, there is a problem of the agitation; there is a problem with the work of the commission. But the fact that pleases me is that there are a few facts when we can suspect the organization of the controlled voting,” Koshel stated.

The moments, when the workers of the polling stations refused to place information about particular candidates considered as the obvious violations of the election process. “There are also the facts on three polling stations, when the stamps with checkmark “out” were used and it led to the spoiling of the ballots,” he added. Besides, Koshel said that the attempt failed to wean people from the making photos of their ballots with notes in front of particular names.  Such a photo for Instagram or Facebook can be considered as a separate violation.

VIP-voting

Besides, the Voters’ Committee added: the cases, when the official observer of one of the candidates used the badges with the symbol of their leader, are also not rare. In fact, the issue was about Volodymyr Zelensky, who was promoted in such a way in Kyiv region. The representatives of Zelensky responded that they do not consider the badges as the agitation but as the identification mark.

One more candidate also distinguished himself and he turned out to be the violated. Oleh Layshko showed the ballot with the results of his voting at one of the polling stations in the presence of the camera. According to Article 7 of the Law “On the election of the president of Ukraine, it is forbidden. As well as any other spotting of the voting process or its results.

The top three of the candidates behaved themselves well. Interestingly, the order of the appearance of the candidates at the polling stations was such: Yulia Tymoshenko was the first, Volodymyr Zelensky was the second and Petro Poroshenko was the third. Meanwhile, their places in the National exit poll as of 6 p.m. did not coincide with the precedence of their appearance near the ballot boxes.

Yulia Tymoshenko (the third place with 14,2%, according to the exit poll) came for voting with the husband and members of the team. “You know that today Ukraine has switched to the summertime, - Tymoshenko reported, - I believe that we will also make a step to successful, prospering and European Ukraine”.

However, Oleksandr, the husband of Tymoshenko preferred to speak about Slovakia. This country also elected a president and Oleksandr Tymoshenko reminded about the victory of local candidate Zuzana Caputova. The message of Tymoshenko family was, generally, clear: we need more women among the presidents and everybody will be happy. However, it looks like happiness turned away from this couple.

Because the lion’s share of luck went to candidate Zelensky (the first place with 30,4%). When Volodymyr Zelensky left the polling booth, he reported that he gave his vote to “very decent candidate”. However, he refused to tell the name of the chosen candidate.

Zelensky noted that “the life without corruption, bribery begins. The life in a new country, the country of changes. All of us hope for it”. He also answered the question of the journalists, with whom he will enter the second tour of the elections and said without modesty: “I do not know, maybe I will be alone”. However, he added: “The country should decide it”.

Meanwhile, the country decided to choose the current president as the rival of Zelensky. Petro Poroshenko occupies the second place according to the National exit poll (17,8%). Poroshenko took the family, wife, the elder son and his partner, two daughters and even grandchildren, for support.

“Today I voted for Ukraine. I am sure that the elections were organized well, as the majority of the Ukrainians, as well as all my family. The will expression of the citizens will be preserved. It is the necessary condition for our movement forward, for the return of Ukraine to the family of the European nations, our membership in the EU, NATO, the continuation of the extremely important reforms, which are crucial for Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

Who the dog voted for?

But it was not so serious everywhere. The funny case took place in Dnipropetrovsk region: the safe for the ballots was absent at the polling station and they were put in the large casserole. However, it was sealed and the top was taped with the rope. The common fridge was used as the safe in the same region. Mykola Kolesnyk, the MP of Kryvorizhia City Council took photos of both and published on the social networks.

Fortunately, the members of the commission did not though to store the ballots in the incubators for newborn at the polling station situated in one of Kyiv maternity homes. Theoretically, they could. “Maternity home” polling station was marked by the journalists, when one of the women in labor succeeded to do her civic duty before the childbirth. Then she returned to the mother's duty and gave birth to a girl right after voting.

And once again about safe ballots. It was so carefully sealed in Lviv region that people did not succeed to open it in the morning on March 31. They used the angle grinder to open it. Any of ballots was damaged as the operation of opening took place so delicate.

In Kyiv’s Podil though, voters lost an extra hour. Polling station #105 opened at 9:00 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. The commission chairman began to celebrate the event in advance and appeared at the workplace cherry merry. Other election participants suspected he was drunk and called the police.

Well, you will hardly surprise anyone with drunken people, but a big black dog at one of the PS caused agiotage. Although the four- paws did not sabotage anything - he was lying quietly in the voting booth waiting for his owner to make his choice. The dog moved the BBC journalist Jonah Fisher, who covers the elections in Ukraine. Fisher posted a photo of the dog in his Twitter account commented: “Not clear who the dog voted for.”


Diaspora’s support

And while foreign journalists were being surprised at our realities, we watched with surprise and gratitude our compatriots who voted abroad. This year, they demonstrated miracles of national integrity and discipline. The lines in which our “foreign” Ukrainians stood reminded of the times of total deficit. But, of course, the general atmosphere was quite differed.

The lines were, in particular, in Germany, in which there was a record number of polling stations. It is not surprising, because there are 17,000 Ukrainians voters in Berlin alone. A chain of people willing to vote lined up to the Ukrainian Embassy in German capital. And the line stretched for 200 meters. A similar picture could be seen in Munich, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Hamburg.

Long queues stood at polling stations in Prague, Berlin and Tallinn. People have spent more than one hour to express their will. Ukrainian ambassador to Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis noted that interest in the elections in Prague is very big.

“It's nice to see how many citizens of Ukraine living in Estonia want to vote in the presidential elections,” said the Ambassador of Ukraine to Estonia Mariana Betsa in the social network.

Returning to Ukraine, we noted that the Roma people actively voted in Zakarpattia. Even despite the difficulties with registration, and in some difficulties with the same names, which confused the process. At the same time, however, western Ukraine did not vote very actively. But, many citizens from occupied territories came to vote to the territories under Ukrainian jurisdiction.

In general, voter turnout as of 15:00 was 45.11%.

And tents “blooming” again

It seemed everything was fine, but at the end of the voting day young people with an athletic build started coming to the Central Election Commission. Allegedly, they came to prevent “riot”. People have put up tents there with a sing “Office of the MP”, young people gathered nearby. It remains unclear what is the aim of these young people and what do they mean by these “riots”. In fact, the Central Election Commission as the Committee of voters of Ukraine has not recorded any gross violations.

“No systemic violations during the voting recorded. There were some isolated cases, but they are typical for any election campaign,” Nataliya Bernatska, the Press Secretary of the Central Election Commission, said.

According to the Internal Ministry, as of 7 pm on March 31 over 1768 allegations of violations were reported. A part of them concerns falsification of the electoral documents, some – violations of secrecy of voting, and hindering the exercise of the right to vote. There are also cases of barbarism and minor injuries. The Internal Ministry opened 25 criminal proceedings. In total, 5, 266 cases of violations of the electoral legislation were reported. 456 of them were received on March 30, the “day of silence”, as Ivan Varchenko, Internal Minister Advisor, said. He added that the majority of the violators will be subjected to moral and ethical punishment. Yet, the part of the perpetrators will be fined (around $50). March 31 was rather a quiet day, so can we assume that the country got off easy? Maybe, but the second round is to be held.

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