The Central Election Commission is, as a rule, the key and one of the most discussed elements of each election campaign in Ukraine.
The topics of the discussion could be different, - from votes counting (as it was in 2004), to discussions around the change of members of the commission (2018).
The tasks though remain the same.
The quality of holding the elections depends a lot on the Central Election Commission. As well as the elections in general.
This is what we need to know about the commission.
What is the Central Election Commission?
The official formulation is as follows:
CEC is the permanent collective body acting in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine.
It is empowered to organize the presidential elections, elections of MPs, deputies of local and village councils, city mayors, heads of communities, as well as organizing all-Ukrainian and local referendums in the order and within the limits defined by law.
The CEC is also officially empowered to organize the elections to the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, but for some well-known reasons, it does not perform these duties currently.
The CEC was established in November 1997. The first session of the commission was held on November 13, 1997.
Composition of the CEC
Previously, the CEC was composed of 15 members. On September 18, the Verkhovna Rada voted to increase the number of members of the Central Election Commission from 15 to 17 people.
The author of this legislative initiative, Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy grounded this decision by the need to unblock the process of renewal of the electoral commission.
What is with the renewal process?
According to the law on the CEC, a member of the Central Election Commission is elected for 7 years.
Then there is a certain legal conflict (let's call it so). In the current composition of the CEC, there are only two members out of the 15, whose term of office has not expired.
The term of office of 12 out of the 15 members has ended on June 1, 2014. The powers of another member ended on February 3, 2017. However, as you know, this did not prevent the current CEC members from holding the elections.
Now it is decided to change the membership. The head must also change.
Who has been running the CEC during the independence period?
The current head of the Central Election Commission is Mykhaylo Okhendovsky. He entered the CEC in 2004 and on July 6, 2013 he was appointed a chairman.
Before him, Volodymyr Shapoval headed the CEC from 2007 to 2013.
From 2004 to 2007, Yaroslav Davydovych was the chairman of the Central Election Commission and before that, in 2004 Serhiy Kivalov held that position.
1997 – 2004 – Mykhailo Ryabets
1993 – 1997 – Ivan Yemets
1992 – 1993 – acting head Oleksandr Lavrynovych
1989 – 1992 – Vitaly Boyko
How does the CEC work?
It organizes the preparation and holding of the elections, so it:
- announces the start of the elections
- heads the system of electoral commissions formed to conduct the elections, directs and controls their activities
- forms territorial election districts (territorial election commissions)
- controls the use of funds allocated from the state budget for the elections
- establishes the forms of election documents, approves ballot boxes for voting and seals of electoral commissions
- registers candidates for president, their trustees and authorized representatives
- establishes the form and approves the text of the ballot paper, ensures the production of ballots
- appeals to the High Administrative Court to cancel the registration of a candidate on the grounds defined by law
- establishes and officially announces election results
- after taking the oath, it presents the newly elected President with the certificate of the President of Ukraine
- exercises other powers in accordance with the law.
How are the votes counted?
As you know, elections are organized and conducted by three key structures: the Central Election Commission, district election commissions and ballot commissions.
The powers of the district election commission extend on the respective territorial election district, and the powers of the ballot commission - on a specific polling station.
After the end of the election (the closure of polling stations), the ballot commission immediately joins the "game" by launching the "data communication chain": ballot commission - district election commission - Central Election Commission.
At first, the CEC accepts electronic data from each district electoral commission, processes it, and inputs into the base.
However, the official results of the elections, according to law, are established by the CEC based on the records of the electoral commissions in paper form (wet-seal protocols).
In December 2017, the CEC initiated an experiment on the transfer of information about counting the votes from the electoral commissions directly to the CEC. This innovation should accelerate the process of counting votes, which is rather slow today.