MINSK, 18 November (BelTA) – During elections to the lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament a certain number of domestic observers committed a large number of violations while working at polling stations. They largely indulged in taking unauthorized photos and videos and in polling voters. Some of them directly interfered with proceedings of the election commissions, BelTA learned from Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Vadim Ipatov.
The official explained that while the Electoral Code does not directly regulate the matter of taking photos and shooting videos at a polling station, the Central Election Commission has released guidelines for territorial election commissions in order to address the matter and rule out possible conflicts. The guidelines allow an observer to take several photos in a place specified by the chairman of the election commission. However, some observers chose to ignore the requirement. “Instead they filmed everything, including videos, and promptly uploaded it to the Internet,” Vadim Ipatov noted.
Some observers chose to roam the polling station at will, get near the desks where ballots are issued, near voting booths and ballot boxes in violation of Article 13 of the Electoral Code. “In some cases observers tailed voters trying to find out who the voter had voted for,” the official said. The observers shared the facts of their violations on social media. “Meanwhile, observers are not allowed to poll voters at all. Watching the voting process is what they should do,” he added.
As for the requirement for observers to stay put, it arises from the need to observe voters' rights, including the right to the secrecy of voting. For instance, if someone starts filming what is going on near the ballot box from up close, the video may allow finding out what marks are left on the ballot.
Vadim Ipatov reminded that Article 13 of the Electoral Code clearly stipulates what actions observers can and cannot do. The latter include the prohibition to interfere with the routine operation of election commissions, violate the secrecy of voting, and poll voters.