A DAY IN THE UKRAINIAN COUNTRYSIDE AS AN OSCE OBSERVER - GUEST BLOG BY ANDREW TATE, MANAGEMENT OFFICER, BRITISH EMBASSY IN KYIV

Ukraine
10.02.10


05:15 Sunday 7 February, Cherkasy, Central Ukraine.

It's 25 degrees below zero outside and the roads are icy. It's the start of a long day as part of the OSCE international election observer mission for the 2nd round of the Ukrainian Presidential Elections. The polling stations open at 08:00am, but we need to be at our first station (pic 1) at 07:15am to witness the opening procedures.

We had visited the previous day to introduce ourselves and are greeted warmly by the Chair of the Precinct Electoral Commission (PEC). We observe the seal on the safe containing the ballot papers being broken and the paperwork being completed. Everything is in order. At 08:30am we say goodbye having seen the first votes of the day being cast. We aim to visit ten polling stations during the day before the polls close at 20:00 ranging from village halls (pics 2 & 3) to local schools (pic 4). We manage nine. People unable to visit their local polling station are able to vote at home.

Whilst travelling between one polling station and the next we find a group of election officials visiting those people registered to vote at home. We take the opportunity to join them (pic 5). The same procedures apply. The voter's ID is checked and they then sign the voters' list before casting their ballot. At 19:30 we head to our final polling station where we intend to stay and witness the count of the ballots (pic 6). The procedures are followed meticulously and the ballots stacked against the names of the two candidates.

At around 22:30 we leave the polling station under police escort to deliver our results to the District Electoral Commission (pic 7). The place is packed with police and other PECs delivering their results. We watch as the details are entered into the computer and the data transmitted to the Central Electoral Commission in Kyiv. Our job done we return to our hotel for a de-brief and manage to get back to our rooms at around 02:30. It was a long day, but worthwhile. And a unique chance to see Ukrainian democracy in action. 



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