Kyiv, March 25, 2019 – Although the election campaign remains highly competitive, numerous allegations of direct and indirect vote buying, misuse of administrative resources and smear campaigns continue to be a reason for concern.
This was concluded in the Second Interim report for the period March 09 – March 21, 2019, published by ENEMO International election observation Mission (IEOM) to Ukraine.
“ENEMO assesses positively the overall performance of the election administration, though issues remain with regard to disparities in the level of preparation of electoral commissions at district and precinct level, and sporadic lack of transparency in the CEC's decision-making process” states the report.
The CEC operates in line with its mandate in a professional and collegial manner. Its official sessions are open to all authorized persons.
“However, the official sessions are used for formal voting, while actual debates and decision-making take place during the preparatory sessions. Since observers continue to require permission that is not always guaranteed, ENEMO does not find the preparatory sessions to be fully transparent”, quoted in the report.
DECs are open to accredited observers and follow the election calendar closely.
“The major activity of DECs in this reporting period was the formation of the PECs’ composition that was professionally conducted by majority of DECs. However, in a few cases, the principle of proportionality in distributing leadership positions of candidates’ nominees was not respected at PECs ”, states the report.
The number of inquiries received on how to change the place of voting has increased.
“By March 21, a total of 181,602 voters temporarily changed their place of voting, without changing their electoral address. The State Voter Registry is efficient, proactive and transparent in processing requests to changes of the electoral address, though some voter registration offices are understaffed. Also, voters are not always properly informed as to where and how they can check whether their name is on the voters’ list (including online), or request changes to their place of voting”, quoted in the report.
Allegations of vote-buying and abuse of administrative resources were reported in various parts of the country, such as organized structures and vote buying schemes, with promises of money in exchange for voting for a particular candidate.
“Observers were also informed of controversial practice of door-to-door operations gathering potential voters’ personal information for dubious reasons. ENEMO interlocutors also evoked concerns regarding the use of regional and local administration premises for campaigning purposes”, the report says.
Calls to violence, the use of inflammatory language and “black PR” towards other candidates continue to impact the campaign environment adversely.
“The use of illegal materials, some with the intent of discrediting other candidates, as well as numerous cases of damaging of billboards were also observed”, the report says.
Principles of fairness, balance, and impartiality in media coverage of election campaigns are insufficiently respected, including the lack of equal and unbiased treatment of all candidates.
“Black PR campaigns, both in traditional and social media, as well as “jeansa” payments, improperly marked advertisement and new forms of concealed propaganda remain reasons of concern, especially when combined with the lack of clear jurisdiction and sanctioning mechanisms of institutions in charge of media oversight”, quoted in the report.
Social media are used extensively in the ongoing electoral campaign, whereas data shows that some candidates primarily use paid ads to create smear campaigns against their opponents.
“ENEMO positively assesses Facebook’s newly introduced rules for ads and requirements for political advertising, that contribute to enhancing campaign finance transparency”, the report says.
This second report is complementary to the first report published by ENEMO mission.
In addition to the long-term presence, the mission will deploy 160 STOs to follow the election-day procedures and results’ processing and issue its preliminary findings, following the polls. ENEMO is a network of 21 leading election monitoring organizations from 18 countries of Europe and Central Asia, including two European Union member states. For more information on ENEMO, please visit http://www.enemo.eu/.
Disclaimer: ENEMO’s international observation mission for Ukrainian Presidential Election 2019 is financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development through the National Democratic Institute, the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of ENEMO and does not necessarily represent the position of its donors.