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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

4: Vote-buying bonanza!

Make money with your vote, but make it count using your mobile phone camera and cellophane

Vote-buying for the imminent Kyiv mayoral and city council elections is “massive,” according to the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, a veteran elections watchdog NGO.

“We are receiving many reports of vote-buying in Kyiv. And it is occurring on a massive scale, with tens of thousands of votes already being bought,” said Ihor Popov, CVU head at a May 20 press conference at the UNIAN news agency.

Popov said the vote buying bonanza will last right up to the elections. The CVU report “urges law-enforcement authorities to detect every such a case.”

But the NGO also offered some very practical advice “if a voter wants to make money by providing mobile phone-photograph evidence of their ballot. The CVU suggests placing transparent cellophane on top of the ballot and marking the names of candidate and political forces names that are parties to the ‘purchase’ agreement … on the actual ballot place the mark in the row that corresponds to the voter’s real choice.”

The CVU said that several political forces are active on the retail electoral market and that the practice of signing “social agreements” with voters who provide passport data for material remuneration has been employed for at least five years in Ukraine.

The practice “has proven successful in the past: according to the organizers of these crimes, around half of the people who received funds voted for their political force,” Popov said. But it will not be as effective in Kyiv this time around.

“Our data shows that students living in student housing have sold their votes three-four times and are waiting for the next client. I think that they will destroy this practice, as control is impossible,” Popov said.

The CVU expects a voter turn-out between 55-60% this Sunday. In the Sept. 2007 snap Rada elections, voter turn-out was over 63%: of 2.2 million eligible voters, 1.4 million ballots were cast at 1,028 stations.

Seventy candidates and more than 35 political parties and blocs are in the running for the post of capital city mayor and 120 seats in the Kyiv Rada.

UNIAN report:
Committee of Voters of Ukraine:

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