Head of CVU believes it will not come to a third round of voting (CVU updated version)
The following is corrected according to the explanatory note regarding a mix-up in what was actually said during Oleksandr Chernenko’s telephone interview [http://www.cvu.org.ua/?lang=ukr&mid=fp&id=2506&lim_beg=0]
Oleksandr Chernenko, Head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine has said in an interview to Interfax-Ukraine that he does not believe that it will come to a third round of voting since the second round will be followed by a stalemate situation where nobody will be sure who actually won the election. He believes this could last several weeks and that there is likely to be a political decision on how to resolve the impasse, rather than a legal one. He predicts fierce confrontation after the second round.
“It is already clear that there will be far less exit polls than there were during the first round since sociologists are not in a hurry to get caught up in this since they realize that the gap will be small. And if the situation arises where there isn’t any exit poll at all, then during the vote count, when nobody knows who got how much, except the party headquarters that carry out internal exit polls, then there really would be a chance of finding the results at some polling stations invalid, and of rigging at others”, he believes.
Mr Chernenko is also convinced that “in any case there will be pressure on the Central Election Commission [CEC], and there could be the most radical scenarios, even the blocking of the CEC’s work by National Deputies. There will of course be an appeal against the results in court, where there is also dual power.”
“The situation in the CEC is not clear: on the one hand there is a simple majority loyal to candidate Yanukovych, on the other there is a more or less neutral Head of the Commission, and other members who have a blocking package in the CEC so as to disrupt the quorum, they are after all loyal to BYuT [Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko]”. He therefore sees it as possible that the work of the commission will be blocked effectively through members sabotaging the quorum by not coming to the meeting or going on sick leave. He cannot exclude either the possibility of National Deputies and their assistants “who are physically well prepared” storming the CEC in order to block it meeting. “And nobody will be able to do anything to them”.
At the present time the CEC has 14 members, and 10 members are needed to form a forum, with 8 votes needed to pass decisions.
Mr Chernenko says that there are a number of possibilities for getting the elections declared invalid, as well as for rigging at particular polling stations. This includes the danger that candidates will recall their members on district and precinct commissions.
If that happens before voting is scheduled to begin, then due to the lack of a quorum, the polling stations will not be able to open, and if before the vote count begins, then even if the commissions count the votes without a quorum, there will be grounds for having the elections declared invalid in court. He calls the danger of these scenarios as being “the most real and most effective”.
Mr Chernenko believes it unlikely that parliament will pass a law before the second round of voting removing the norm stipulating the need for a quorum of two thirds of the members of the commission in order to take decisions and holding voting.
Among ways of vote rigging, he named damaging the ballot boxes or the seals on them so that the votes inside are declared invalid.
“There were precedents in 2004, where they poured liquid into the box or went up quietly and with manicure scissors simply cut the seal and ran away”.
Furthermore, members of the electoral commissions may not sign the ballot papers issued to voters which will then also be declared invalid, or place stamps “withdrawn” against the name of a candidate.
“These are radical means however through such machinations at particular polling stations you can get a real number which could influence the general result.”
With regard to the situation around the printing company “Ukraina”, Mr Chernenko suggested that the change in management was more likely to disrupt the elections at particular polling stations, rather than to print extra ballot papers.
“Any conversations about how extra ballot papers will be printed, especially several million, are extremely exaggerated since there is control over this process at the factory, and any such attempt will be noticed. It’s simply impossible to do it in secret. Therefore all talk about printing extra ballot papers have no substance.”, he is convinced.
At the same time, he believes that there could be another danger since those in control of the printing company would have more chance to disrupt the elections by being late with printing ballot papers, or with one polling station receiving ballot papers with the wrong number, resulting in them being invalid at that particular location.
“Therefore control over the factory will not so much enable the printing of extra ballot papers so as to throw them in, but simply to make the process of printing the papers more chaotic, which would in the end mean that the results at some polling stations might be declared invalid. This particularly concerns those polling stations where there is a very large percentage of support for the candidates.”
“For many people the second round will be decisive and a situation where the gap between first and second place will be much smaller than in the first round, and every vote will count, means that in principle such things [disruption of the elections or vote rigging] are entirely possible and will be used.”