Ukraine's local elections 2020: All you need to know about new electoral framework

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

So what would happen in Ukraine on October 25th? Will elections be the same everywhere? Who can run in this election?
15:00, 20 October 2020

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Elections: instructions for use

So what would happen in Ukraine on October 25th? Election of deputies of city and regional councils, as well as rural, settlement and city heads to take place everywhere, except for the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, individual districts, cities, towns, and villages of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

It is important to take into account: this year the country has enlarged the districts, their number has decreased from 490 to 136. Therefore, on October 25 in the newly formed territorial communities, the first elections of community councils and deputies to district councils will be held.

Related: US supports Ukraine's position on elections in occupied Donbas

Will elections be the same everywhere? No. In settlements with a population of fewer than 75,000 voters, the local chairman will be elected by a simple majority. That is, the candidate with the most votes wins. In the event that it turns out that the candidates received the same number of votes, a repeat election will be called.

If the number of voters exceeds 75,000 mayoral elections can be held in two rounds. The second round will be held in the event that none of the candidates gains an absolute majority of votes in the first round (50% +1 vote). In the second round, the two candidates with the largest number of votes in the first round will compete.

Who can run in this election? If we are talking about the election of heads - city, rural, settlement - then, in fact, anyone. That is both self-nominated candidates and candidates from parties. The situation with advice is somewhat different.

In communities with a population of up to 10,000 people, both candidates from parties and self-nominated candidates are able to run for local councils. The latter do not have to be party members; it is enough for the party to approve their participation at its conference.

How will the community elections be held? Each community is divided into districts, where two to four deputies will be elected. Only those who received the largest number of votes from voters in their constituency will be elected to the local council.

But in communities with more than 10,000 voters, only party candidates will be able to run without the possibility of self-nomination. The local council will only include those candidates whose parties receive more than 5% of the vote. That is, it is not enough for the applicant himself to have a high rating, it is also important that his party does not let down and overcome the passing threshold.

Related: Zelensky addresses Ukrainians, announces poll on day of local elections

Ballot paper: two columns and two marks

This year, the ballot paper will look different. That is why many fear that the number of spoiled ballots will ultimately lead to the illegitimacy of the elections.

Kyiv residents would have the easiest way to vote: they will receive only two ballots - with a list of candidates for mayor and city council. But on October 25, the majority of voters will receive four ballots: the head of the settlement - the mayor, settlement or village mayor, deputies of the city/village/settlement council; deputies of the district council; deputies of the regional council.

How to fill out the ballot paper? The Opora organization explains: the ballot will consist of two parts - a list of parties and candidates from parties. When voting, a person will need to put a mark in front of a certain political force, and then enter the number of a specific candidate.

In this case, the list of parties will be on the left of the ballot. In the middle, there are two squares for marks. On the right will be a numbered list of candidates from that party. First, we select a party and put a "tick", "plus" or any other mark in the first box to express our will for the party. Then a voter enters the number of the candidate whom he gives preference to in the corresponding territorial list of the chosen party. The candidate number space has a form similar to the one used to write the zip code.

It is very important to write down the number clearly in order to avoid misunderstandings when counting votes by members of the precinct election commission.

According to the legislation, one candidate can be entered in a maximum of two lists, for example, for the position of the mayor and deputy of the local council, or in councils of different levels, such as regional and district. That is, if the same surname occurs twice, this is normal.

It is important to remember that even if you spoil the ballot paper, this is not a critical situation. You have the right to apply to the member of the election commission who issued the ballot, with a request to issue another in exchange for the incorrectly completed one.

A corresponding note is made about this in the voter list opposite the voter's surname, and the ballot paper with an error is immediately canceled, about which an act is drawn up so that during the counting of votes the ballot paper is counted as unused.

Related: Local elections in Kyiv: Candidates try to hype on facilitating local infrastructure

And then the counting of votes will begin.

How will the votes be counted and how many deputies will be elected?

The number of elected deputies is clearly indicated in the Electoral Code:

22 deputies up to 10,000 voters;

26 deputies in settlements with 10 – 30,000 voters;

34 deputies in settlements with 30 – 50,000 voters;

38 deputies in settlements with 50 – 100,000 voters;

42 deputies in settlements with 100 – 250,000 voters;

54 deputies in settlements with from 250 – 500,000 voters;

64 deputies in settlements with from 500,000 to 1 million voters;

84 deputies in settlements with 1 – 2 million voters -;

120 deputies in settlements with more than 2 million voters.

Kyiv residents and therefore 120 deputies will be elected to the capital council.

Related: Elections in occupied Donbas to take place after regain control over Ukrainian border, - Zelensky

Another important remark: in communities with a population of more than 10,000 voters, a system of open lists has been introduced. Parliament also retained an electoral quota of 25%. What does this mean?

An electoral quota is the percentage of voters required to receive one deputy mandate. It is determined by dividing the total number of votes of the parties that received more than 5% of the votes by the number of seats. The first numbers of the party lists are not taken into account.

That is, if there are 120 seats in the Kyiv City Council, and six parties have overcome the 5% barrier, for which 600,000 voters have jointly voted, the quota is calculated using the formula 600,000/114 mandates (120 minus the first six numbers of parties) and is equal to 5260 votes. This is the quota.

Now let's calculate the mandates for each party. Let's say there is a party that has received 100,000 votes. We divide this number by the quota and get (200,000/5260) 19,011. Integers mean the number of mandates. That is, one of the parties that ran for the Kyiv City Council will be able to hold exactly as many deputies to the capital's parliament. It's about their number, but what about personalities?

The party itself has placed its nominees in the order it wants, but this does not mean that, for example, a candidate with number 20 or 21 will not get to the Kyiv City Council if there are only 19 seats. To pass, he needs to gain more than 25 percent of the quota, that is, in our example, more than 5260 votes. This is his personal social lift, which takes the applicant upstairs, even despite the low personal number in the party's rating. All candidates with more than 25% of the votes are automatically placed at the top of the list.

Related: Ukraine prepares for nationwide local elections: Who to fight for Kyiv mayoral office?

Ticks and checkmarks

Experts point out that the new voting system can significantly complicate everything and even lead to the fact that elections will be point-to-point invalidated. To prevent this from happening, the authorities had to take care of all the necessary clarifications in advance. But now this moment has already been missed.

“There will definitely be difficulties with voting,” head of the Third Sector Center, Andriy Zolotariov, predicts. “It was necessary to take a long time to explain how to handle the new-style voting paper. In addition, we had six months to implement online voting. Thank God, Ukraine has pretty good things with the Internet. So we would adhere to quarantine standards and avoid queues.”

And now, according to Zolotariov, there might be a lot of spoiled ballots. "If the turnout is at least 50%, then queues cannot be avoided. And the queues in the coronavirus crisis - I can't even imagine how it will look..."

"There will be many cities, where the election result will be in doubt. Scenarios are already being developed to ensure such doubts where the result desired by the main players is not achieved. And the coronavirus plays into the hands here, because it throws up a very simple option – at least one a member of the commission declares a positive result, and the entire commission goes to self-isolation," says the expert.

Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, also tells us about the "medical consequences" of the 2020 elections: "Problems with the Covid-19 can disrupt the elections. Especially after the explanations that people without masks will be allowed into the polling stations. That is, on the one hand, the schools go for distance learning and vacations, and on the other - please, come without masks."

Related: Health Ministry reveals only condition for postponement of local elections in Ukraine

The political scientist is also not delighted with the idea of ​​the authorities to combine elections with an all-Ukrainian poll. "The poll from Zelensky complicates everything," Petrenko is convinced. "Although this is his way of attracting people to the polls, those who are not interested in the voting process can come for a poll. The first question - about life imprisonment for corrupt officials - is very populist, many people may like it."

The expert adds: “In local elections, voters usually do not know their candidates. So the queues are just unavoidable. Because, first of all, it is necessary to sort out the candidates, and in addition to deal with the ballots. A voter comes, looks at the queue, turns around and goes home – this is how it might work.”


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