Even voters’ help lines can be used manipulatively
Specialists are certain that the most common complaint received on election help lines will be that a person is not on the voter list. People will ring for advice what to do, or to report infringements in voting procedure. They do however also warn of a risk that people’s trust will be abused in order to gather compromising evidence against opponents.
On Election Day around the clock Ukrainians will be able to complain to the Human Rights Ombudsperson of infringements of their electoral rights, either though a telephone help line or over the Internet. The same type of telephone help line has been introduced by the SBU [Security Service] and ten or so civic organizations. There will also be a help line for journalists run by the Association of Media Lawyers.
Yury Yakimenko from the Razumkov Centre is convinced that the more information becomes public about infringements of civic rights at polling stations, the better the evidence base for court appeals to have voters’ rights reinstated. He does however caution: “I would not exclude abuse of such a mechanism with knowing false information being given. This will simply overload those structures or deliberately provoke certain conflict where there is none”. He hopes that politicians will not turn help lines into a method for gathering compromising information about their opponents, and while not overstating the problem, does believe some psychological pressure could be at play.