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Court specifies at home ballot measures
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Aug. 26 District election commissions will have to verify whether a voter had the right to cast a ballot at home in order to prevent election fraud, a newspaper reported Sunday, citing a court ruling.

But the High Administrative Court also ruled the voters do not have to submit any proof of disability while requesting casting ballots at home.

The ruling was praised by opposition groups as a measure that will reduce chances for manipulation of the upcoming election on Sept. 30.

But the ruling was also praised by pro-government groups that had said they defended the right for disabled people to cast ballots at home.

I think that the number of such applications [requesting casting ballots at home] will be three times less, Volodymyr Pulypenko, a lawyer for the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, told Ukrayinska Pravda. Since this is a responsibility and they will be scared to do this.

But Mykhaylo Okhendovskiy, a pro-government member of the Central Election Commission, said: In general I support this ruling. This is a victory for the Central Election Commission.

Okhendovskiy argued that the ruling does not require a voter with disability to present a proof of the disability while submitting the request for casting ballot at home.

The Kiev District Administrative Court last week ordered that measures must be introduced to restrict casting ballots at home in order to prevent election fraud.

The opposition groups seeks to prevent what had been described as one of the key elements that had helped to falsify the first two rounds of presidential election in November 2004 in favor of Yanukovych.

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 massive fraud triggered an uprising, known as the Orange Revolution, which had catapulted Yushchenko, then the opposition candidate, to the presidency.

The Kiev court earlier this week ordered the CEC to amend its regulations that would allow casting ballots at home only for people with disabilities. The CEC would also have to make sure that the disability claim is properly verified.

The regulations, approved by the Yanukovych-led CEC on Aug. 13, allow virtually anybody to cast ballots at home after submitting a simple hand-written application. (nr/ez)




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