KIEV, Aug. 13 – The Central Election Commission, led by loyalists of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, on Monday allowed voters to cast ballots at home, a highly controversial move that may open way for massive vote rigging at the Sept. 30 snap election.
The same tactic, coupled with other sophisticated ways of vote rigging, was used at the presidential election in November 2004, which had triggered an uprising, known as Orange Revolution, against the election fraud.
Up to 30% of voters in some districts in the Donetsk region, the stronghold of Yanukovych, allegedly voted at home in November 2004, up from a usual share of 0.5%, according to figures cited by officials.
The vote rigging apparently helped Yanukovych to defeat Viktor Yushchenko, then opposition candidate running for the presidency, which had led to the Orange Revolution.
Western government refused to accept the fraudulent vote results. The Supreme Court later canceled the vote and ordered a re-run of the vote on Dec. 25, 2004. Yushchenko easily defeated Yanukovych after voting at home and other ways of vote rigging had been cancelled.
But the CEC decision on Monday to allow voters casting ballots at home triggers concerns that Yanukovych’s Regions Party may be preparing to launch manipulations with ballots.
“How can the CEC prevent the 2004 situation when in some regions about 30% of voters have been casting ballots at home?” Roman Zvarych, Yushchenko’s representative at the CEC, said.
The 15-strong CEC was able to approve the controversial decision on Monday as eight pro-Yanukovych members maintain the majority in the body against seven members representing the opposition.
By its decision, the CEC approve an application form that must be filed by a voter asking to cast the ballot at home. Opposition members were trying to slap an amendment that only sick or disabled people may cast the ballots at home after producing a health evaluation certificate.
However, the CEC rejected the amendment, now effectively allowing any voter to cast the ballot at home. Such voter would have to submit an application not later than two days before the vote, stating the reason why he or she would like to cast the ballot at home. (jp/ez)