The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America's Kharkiv mission consisted of 11 persons who came from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. They monitored in four election districts within the City of Kharkiv (#s 168,169,171, 173) and two election districts (#'s 175 and 180). District #175 was specifically suggested because of its proximity to Russia and suspicions raised by local Kharkiv NGO's regarding probabilities of voter fraud or irregularities.
The general consensus was that the elections were conducted in a reasonably free and democratic fashion excepting some irregularities:
Several precincts in electoral district # 175 failed to display properly the voting bloc/party posters bearing the names and photos of the first five candidates of each bloc/party and the platform. In two precincts visited the posters simply lay one on top of another on a table at the entrance to the precinct therefore, perhaps, subliminally suggesting voting for the party bloc whose poster was on top and therefore most visible. The precinct chairs pointed out in each instance that there was a lack of wall space or that they did not have the necessary funds for the adhesives needed to post properly. There was no evidence of intent to defraud.
There was an apparent unequal application of the law between District # 168 and District # 175. In the former where hospitals, including for the military are located, a directive from the District chair was to provide the patients even those who were not registered as residents in the district with two ballots as for the regular residents of the district. In the latter where numerous military personnel are based because of its proximity to the Russian border, the procedure was to hand out only the multiple mandate bloc/party ballot and not the single ballot bulletin to those soldiers who were not registered as residents in the districts. The latter appears to be the proper procedure both according to the law and logic since individuals who are permanent residents of other districts should not have been afforded the opportunity to elect representatives of the district where they are staying temporarily.
In precinct # 630319 of district # 175 candidate Sergei Nesterenko, a candidate running in the district but a resident of another precinct appeared in person in one precinct ostensibly to ascertain the voting procedures in that precinct. His appearance was brief but did result in a bit of a commotion as it could have been deemed as electioneering in that precinct which is prohibited under the law.
In precinct # 630339 of district # 175 the Precinct Election Commission (PEC) chair paid inordinately much attention to the UCCA observer team to the point of following them not only throughout the precinct but even walking them outside as if to make sure that they were gone. While this may have appeared as a courtesy, it was overwhelming. Subsequently, the UCCA observer team by a staffer from one of the single mandate candidates that there were allegations of unknown individuals paying for votes at that location.
While international and other observes were generally unobtrusive and did not interfere in the functioning of the Precinct election commissions' work in at at least two precincts of District 169 one observer (affiliation to be determined) spent an inordinate amount of time in private conversation with the PEC chair which appeared to result in a manifestly sobering appearance and new attitude of the chair. Unfortunately no further details can be provided at this time. Nor can it be stated how this affected the behavior and functioning of the PEC and the voting process.
It's probably relevant to note that voter turnout in the Kharkivska oblast was low. According to the CEC statistics that turnout was only 45%, some seven percentage points lower than in all of Ukraine. This phenomenon was apparent in the course of the process and the UCCA Kharkiv Mission mission representatives questioned the PEC personnel on this issue. While the analysis varied, the answer most given was that the older voters failed to show or ask for the ballot to be brought to their homes since their favorites often peers in age were not on the ballots. Given Klahrkiv's past performance, although the city of Kharkiv has changed dramatically in the last year, as well as the low turnout in Luhansk and Donetsk because of the war and no turnout in Crimea because of the occupation, these were significant factors in the election results in the multiple mandate bloc party electoral district.
The results were quite different in the single mandate districts in Kharkivska oblast and many such districts in eastern Ukraine where former “Regionals” and favorite sons who were often responsible for the economic viability of the community even minimally almost invariably ran on independent lines. In these instances the lower turnout affected their election only by lowering the percentage of their victory.
October 30, 2014 Askold S. Lozynskyj
UCCA Kharkiv Mission Chair