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20 October 2022, 16:34

Plans to remove minimum voter turnout requirement in Belarus

MINSK, 20 October (BelTA) - Key innovations proposed to the election legislation were discussed at the meeting hosted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Chairman of the Belarusian Central Election Commission Igor Karpenko told journalists after the meeting, BelTA has learned.

According to Igor Karpenko, conceptual changes to the election legislation were supported by the president. "It is clear that the deputy corps will still have work to do. MPs were engaged at the stage of development of the bill on amendments and additions to the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus. Well, I think that together with the MPs we will hold field meetings of relevant commissions and a number of dialogue platforms. Although we have already done some of this. Today I was instructed to conduct discussions with representatives of public organizations and political parties. We are ready to work in this regard," he said.

Igor Karpenko outlined three main areas in which the electoral legislation will be fine-tuned.

First, the Electoral Code is being brought in line with the amendments to the Constitution. These include a provision on the right to vote in elections for citizens who are in pre-trial detention and have not yet been convicted.

The updated code will also reflect a number of new requirements for candidates to president and members of parliament.

The second set of amendments to the Electoral Code is related to the legislative innovations which are currently being adopted or have already been formalized in legislative acts. In particular, this applies to the laws on political parties, on civil society, and the Belarusian People's Congress.

The third large set of changes comes from the analysis of the electoral processes both in Belarus and abroad, including international treaties to which Belarus has acceded.

Igor Karpenko shared some details in this regard: “Since we are going to have a single voting day to elect members of the House of Representatives, members of the Council of the Republic, all local councils, in particular on 25 February 2024, we will need to create certain legal norms for quality work of election commissions. For example, in terms of elections to local councils, we do not have a minimum voter turnout requirement. While in terms of parliamentary elections, there is such a requirement [more than half of the voters on the voter lists in an election district]. We proposed to remove this turnout requirement, to equalize the terms for all these elections to make things easier for election commissions and entities that organize all these activities.”

Another innovation related to the observer accreditation process. Now an observer can ask for accreditation on voting day. “We propose this to be done before the start of early voting. Otherwise election commissions face an uneven burden. Before the start of voting no one visits them, no one asks for accreditation. As soon as voting starts, people start pouring in asking to register them, accredit them as observers. That's probably not fair. If you are nominated by any organization, citizens, labor collective to observe the elections or a referendum, it means you need to take care of these things in advance," said Igor Karpenko.

He announced that next week the CEC is planning to hold a meeting to discuss the proposed innovations.

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