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09 August 2020, 18:58

Belarus' CEC against keeping polling stations open past 20:00

MINSK, 9 August (BelTA) – The time for casting votes cannot be extended, BelTA learned from Chairwoman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina.

Lidia Yermoshina said: “I can say right away that it is impossible to extend the voting time. The law allows votes to be cast till 20:00. The Central Election Commission cannot amend laws. Respectively, the polling stations will have to close.”

In her words, provocateurs intentionally draw out the process and spoil ballots. “They ask for another ballot and spoil it, too. When they are refused a new ballot, they say we violate their constitutional rights. I can say right away that the law allows only one replacement ballot. The rest can be considered as actions meant to counteract the election campaign. In other words, an administrative offense,” the official explained.

Lidia Yermoshina also commented on a leaked audio recording, which reveals how the election commission of a polling station was training to report results of the vote. “We have information from the observers, who were nominated by the Federation of Trade Unions and were present at the polling station. They say it was a rehearsal, these are not real figures, and the head of the election commission was simply drilling members of the commission. Let's call it a training session,” she said.

Speaking about long queues at some polling stations, Lidia Yermoshina said that these crowds had been created by provocateurs. “Those are representatives of the protest electorate that make up human chains. It is all part of the same chain. They are the same people, who went to massive rallies and concerts with their kids without thinking about safety, the people, who stood in a lengthy line to file complaints with the Central Election Commission although there was no need to do it, the people, who committed protest actions,” the official said. “They responded to calls of their ‘shepherds', who constantly, so to speak, advised them to come and cast their votes on Sunday, at the end of the day at that. Truth be told, they were a bit scared in the morning because I said there were too many people and there won't be enough time for everyone to cast their votes. And the queues started growing in the afternoon.”

Yet Lidia Yermoshina believes that queues in Lebyazhy Microdistrict in Minsk's Tsentralny District had been formed due to poor work on the part of local housing maintenance and administration authorities. “Apparently the lists of voters were incorrect,” she explained. This is why voters, who turned up, had to be added to an additional list, their data had to be checked, and it took time.

“So, circumstances vary. But Sukharevo [Microdistrict in Minsk's Frunzensky District] is ‘on fire' because of provocateurs,” Lidia Yermoshina said.

She also spoke about complaints being filed with the Central Election Commission. Since the staff is not large (11 people including the head of the CEC) work with these complaints takes a lot of time, Lidia Yermoshina pointed out.

“A form can be downloaded from the Internet and 10-20 observers can fill it in and submit the same complaint. Dealing with the complaint is not a problem. There is nothing to look into. Those are questions about formalities. Taking into account the small size of our staff it needs a lot of technical work: we have to register a complaint, look into it, provide an answer, and so on. All of it uses up a lot of time,” Lidia Yermoshina noted.

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