Early voting in Belarus: Green light for election fraud?

Early voting in the elections to local councils of deputies kicked off in Belarus on February, 13. There might be many rigged votes and violations from Tuesday till Saturday, independent observers warn.

During the 2014 local elections, 32% of voters cast their ballots early. Why is the number so high?

“No one controls whether votes are tampered or not. There is a police officer at each ballot station, but they are totally cotrolled by the authorities,” Dzyanis Sadouski, a representative of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party, says.

If all constentants have an access to ballot boxes at a station, such suspicions could be dispelled.

“I sent them proposals during the 2015 presidential elections, but they have turned a deaf ear to me. The candidates did not get an opportunity to affix their seals to early voting boxes,” candidate Dzyanis Turchanyak says.

According to human rights activists claim, public employees, military personnel and students are compelled to take part in early voting. Indeed, Belsat TV journalists saw many students at a polling station located in one of Minsk hostels. Had they really been forced to go there?

“We are forced to vote in the presidential elections. I am not sure about local elections. But they are highly likely to do that; there is no way out, especially for students who live in dorms.”

“I think we should do it. I do not know whether other students are compelled. I do it on my own accord.”

“It is nothing but voluntary-compulsory.”

It is noteworthy that many of those who have already voted, know little about candidates. And sign of reluctance are spotted not only among the students. A day before, a meeting with the pro-government candidate, deputy director of Keramin plant Yauhen Kastsyukou, was to have been held. But no one came. Moreover, the candidate refused to talk to Belsat and called our crew ‘opposition’.

“Apparently, people are not interested in the elections at the moment. The real turnout will be 10-15 percent,” candidate Dzyanis Tikhonenka says.

But it would be interesting to know what turneou numbers will be voiced by the Central Election Commission on Sunday. And for the record, the 2018 elections cost $10.5 mln.

Belsat.eu, photo by Reuters