Saturday, December 25, 2004

Last-minute change in Ukraine could disrupt polling 

The Constitutional Court has invalidated some of the restrictions against absentee voting in Ukraine. As Brendan Koerner pointed out, absentee ballots were at the bottom of many voting irregularities in the second round on November 26th. They believe 1.5 million extra absentee ballots were introduced illegally. The new law said that absentee voting certificates would be severely restricted, and homevoting would be limited to those with serious and permanent disabilities, and fixed the ratio of absentee ballots to those cast in polling stations. It appears from this report on Maidan News that this is the part that was ruled unconstitutional. Many other restrictions are still in place. I'll update with whatever more I find on this.

This is clearly a pro-Yanukovych move by the court. The result of this decision, coming the day before the election, is likely that there will be court appeals of the results regardless of who wins.

UPDATE: I am reading a translation of the law, and I believe this is the section that was invalidated.

Article 6.1. Voting outside the premises for voting shall be allowed only for
the disabled individuals of the 1st group, who can not move by their own. A
handwritten application for providing a voter with a possibility to vote outside
the premise for voting shall be filed with a polling station commission together
with a copy of a disabled individual's certificate certified in accordance with
the established procedure or a certificate of an expert medical commission no
later than on 12 AM of the day before the polling day.

2. Two members of the polling station commission representing different candidates shall organize voting outside the premise for voting. It is prohibited to use more than one mobile polling box at the same time.

I do not believe the limits on the ratio of absentee to paper ballots were lifted by the law, but I haven't seen anything more than news reports to this point.