Ukraine's key election fraud technologies

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

In fact, only parliamentary elections of 1990 and presidential elections of 1991 might be considered fair ones
10:10, 18 March 2019

Open source

The “old inhabitants” of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada say that with each new convocation, the quality of the MPs deteriorates. From year to year, the politicians bribe the voters or falsify the results of the voting with more and more cynical methods.

In fact, only parliamentary elections of 1990 and presidential elections of 1991 might be considered fair ones. When the old communist party system collapsed, and no new one has not been born yet. And since 1994, participants in the election campaign have been actively adjusting its course and elections results in their favor.

Actually, in January 1994, Mykhailo Boychyshyn, head of the Secretariat of Narodny Rukh party, has disappeared. According to the testimony of the party members, his removal from the game has significantly weakened the party in the election year.

The tragedy with Boychyshyn was the first political crime in independent Ukraine. The method of direct reprisals against the opponent in Ukraine has become quite popular – let us recall at least not investigated accident involving Vyacheslav Chornovil  (Ukraine’s dissident and MP, killed in 1999, - ed.) and Yushchenko’s poisoning (TCDD poisoning in September 2004, - ed.), but now we are not talking about political assassinations and abductions.

Let us talk about the methods of mass influence on the course of the elections, applied from 1994 to 2019.

Related: 130,000 law enforcers to maintain public order on election day in Ukraine

Carousel voting

One of the oldest methods of voting fraud (borrowed from Russia) is called "carousel voting." This term denotes two different technologies. The older format was once described by Ihor Popov, the then-chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine.

“Violators stand under the polling station and offer voters to sell a ballot. The voter must throw the already filled ballot into the ballot box. So the bribed voter has to put a ballot, stolen by another voter, into the ballot box. Accordingly, he receives a clean ballot and throws the signed ballot in the box; the clean one goes to the people standing outside,” Popov describes the process.

There is another "carousel voting" scheme when falsification participants receive absentee ballots from the members of the election commissions.

A group of falsifiers gets on a bus that travels from one polling station to another, where each participant votes, using the absentee ballot. This method was very popular at the 2004 presidential election. This that gave Viktor Yushchenko’s team a reason to talk about massive (not rare) violations of the electoral process.

Later, in 2005, when Yushchenko had already taken the presidency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office reported about 5,500 cases of “carousel voting.”

Related: Ukraine’s Central Election Commission registers over 600 international observers

Interestingly, before the second runoff in the 2004 election, absentee ballots were banned. The Verkhovna Rada returned them in 2010, adopting amendments to the law "On the State Registry of Voters."

Proficit scheme

Proficit is a cheap scheme, which could not be implemented today due to the high degree of security of the ballots. It's about fake printed ballots, when the head of the polling station that cooperates with the falsifiers, receives more ballots than voters in the lists.

The extra bulletins are used in the interests of a particular candidate, and then falsified ballots are counted with to the rest of the ballots. The technology was launched at the presidential elections of 1999, and 2004. The falsifiers did not naively take into account that with their “additional” ballots voter turnout could exceed 100%.

Ghost voters

There is a joke about an old widower comes to the polling station and asks whether his wife has already voted. Having received an affirmative answer, the grandfather says that his wife has died 15 years ago, but still the elections observers mark her participation, and he, her lovely husband, cannot meet her...

Related: Elections 2019: Central Election Commission should refuse to register Russian OSCE observers

Introduction of the state register of voters should improve the situation, but currently, the registry serves mainly to ensure that the data of an individual were entered correctly, and it is rather difficult to detect the “extra” persons on the list. Such a task can only be done to law enforcement agencies, on whose behalf Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has already said that registry checks will certainly continue.

They just have not so much time. And Mykola Katerynchuk, head of the election headquarters of wannabe prez Anatoliy Hrytsenko, draws attention to the fact that a million of voters have been added to the registry. Now there are 35.6 million voters, whereas in the 2014 elections there were 34.6 million.

Considering the demographic situation in the country, it is unlikely that in 5 years a million of those who are now 18 have grown up. In addition, residents of Crimea and Donbas were included in the state register is also worrying.


"Buckwheat" is, in fact, the older sister of popular "electoral grid," which is disguised bribery of voters. The early version of "buckwheat" was more chaotic – these were food packages, which often included buckwheat, were offered to virtually everyone, without any mutual obligations. "Buckwheat" scheme has won the administrative resource for the first time in the elections for the Kyiv mayor in 2006. It seemed that the then mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, who controlled the election commissions, had all the necessary levers of influence in his hands. But the powerful Omelchenko, unexpectedly for himself, lost the election to Leonid Chernovetsky, a little-known man at that time, who did what his rival did not think of – "went to the people." The return of the majority districts in 2012 made the use of “buckwheat” even more motivated – from now on, every candidate tried to bestow his electorate with unchanged food sets or other benefits.

Related: Elections 2019: Presidential candidate Taruta supports Yulia Tymoshenko

Electoral grid

This is a rigid hierarchy of people who are responsible for the mobilization of voters. Thousands of thousands of people lead by a “grid,” controlled by special centurions and foremen. The latter has direct contact with people in the “door-to-door” mode.

Who are the foremen? They seek for the pensioners or those who seek social assistance, or those who attend meetings with candidates. There are many ways of forming the "grid." In the end, a telephone directory is a prototype of a grid, but still unprocessed one. You can create a “grid” from scratch or buy a ready one – the one that remained from the last election.

Forming the "grid," foremen offer people money. In case of consent, part of the money is issued before the voting day, and part is given after. Of course, it is impossible to control everyone, and therefore 20-30% of losses are put into the "grid." After all, someone, having taken the money, can deceive his foreman by voting for the wrong candidate.

Related: Russia unlikely to release Ukrainian sailors before end of election in Ukraine, - Poroshenko

In addition, the "grid" can be built so thinly that it will generally look like something else. For example, opponents of the current president consider electoral manipulation the current one-time surcharge in the amount of 90 USD to 1.9 million pensioners. The surcharge is divided into two tranches, the first of which will be issued in March, and the second would be in April, that is, just between the first and second rounds of voting.

Andriy Magera, Deputy Chairman of the CEC, believes that the introduction of an exclusively proportional system with open lists will help to end manipulation in the elections.

Such a system involves rating voting for each member of the party that fights for the right to be represented in the Verkhovna Rada. But this concerns parliamentary elections.

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