Ruling Servant of the People party has announced that the poll on October 25 would be paid for from its funds.
“The decision was made at a meeting of the Supreme Council of the party on October 20,” reads the party statement. “Servant of the People will not conduct research on its own but will conclude an agreement with a company that conducts sociological surveys. Citizens who conduct the research will be located outside the polling stations. In fact, this is the world generally accepted exit poll format.”
At the same time, according to Strana.ua's information, at the beginning of the week, the president was supposed to announce that he would finance the survey himself from his own funds.
But then the concept changed dramatically.
Strana.ua tried to find out why, how much the survey will cost, and who will actually pay for it.
How much would it cost?
Let's define the main items of expenses required for the full organization of the poll.
- People who will conduct the survey. Officially, both the President's Office and his team call them volunteers – that is, those who work voluntarily and free of charge. But, according to Strana.ua sources in the president's team, no one will work for free. And this is the biggest expense.
According to Strana.ua, the survey would cover 30,000 polling stations. Each will have two people. That is, in total, 60,000 volunteers are needed.
According to social scientists, an interviewer usually receives about 35 USD per day of work at the exit field. That is, at least 210,000 USD will be spent to pay the survey takers. And this sum does not include the cost of equipment and logistics.
However, Servant of the People tries to insist that their labor is free and would pay them "in cash." But this deception will be easily revealed - as hardly 60,000 people across the country will strictly keep the secret of payment.
- Printing questionnaires with five questions. According to MP from the ruling party Vasyl Mokan, 5 million questionnaires would be printed.
The price for print might be 0,35 USD per 100 A4 sheets, so it would cost Zelensky 17,700 USD.
- Special boxes for collecting completed questionnaires. One ballot box should be located at each polling station, which means that there should be 30,000 of such boxes.
The range of prices for ballot boxes made of transparent plastic is large. The minimum price we’ve managed to find is 10,6 USD per piece, 320,000 USD in total.
True, another question is that no one undertakes to make 30,000 ballot boxes in such a short time. Although, it is possible that the order for their manufacture was placed even earlier.
- Counting the results - the salary of those people who count and process the voting results.
However, experts interviewed by Strana.ua are not even sure that the votes would be counted, since there is generally no mechanism for independent verification and control over the course of voting and determining its results.
Answering the question about how much the counting of votes will cost, political scientist Vitaliy Kulyk jokingly suggested: "Are you sure that counting is actually needed?"
"Theoretically, the calculation of the results with the insertion of data into Excel can be calculated at a rate of 0,35 USD per 1000 questionnaires," the expert added. So it might reach 1,700 USD.
The total amount will be at least 2,4 million USD.
Could Zelensky afford to pay for such a survey?
According to the declaration, the income of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his family members in 2019 amounted to 1,012,356 USD.
In addition, the Zelensky family sold this year a country house near Kyiv for 460,000 USD.
Zelensky's bank accounts contain 460,936 USD, over UAH 5 million (176,000 USD), and EUR 240. Zelensky also declared UAH 1,212 million (42,9 million USD) as advance contributions.
Zelensky keeps UAH 150,000 (5,300 USD), USD 112,000 and EUR 6,300 in cash.
That is, even Zelensky's entire income and savings are clearly not enough to finance such a large-scale survey.
True, as stated above, it would be possible to hide the wages of people and only highlight the costs of printing sheets and making ballot boxes, but this trick will quickly become known and can lead to a big scandal.
Apparently, this is why Zelensky refused the idea of announcing the financing of the survey from his own funds. And the costs were covered by the party.
And who will actually pay for the poll?
Sources in the Servant of the People faction told Strana.ua that in reality the poll will be financed from the funds of party sponsors and large business loyal to the president.
Moreover, according to political scientist Viktor Nebozhenko, Zelensky's poll in could cost even more – tens of millions of dollars. But the official amount of expenses will be named below.
"The poll will be financed from two sides - black and white cash. Officially, we will be told a beggarly figure. And they will spend tens of millions of dollars in black, 40% of which will be stolen in the process. The oligarchs will give money for it. This poll is a purely lobbying story. It is wrong if the president He himself conducts a survey about marijuana," Nebozhenko said.