2020 Presidential Election: Report on the formation of precinct election commissions
Observation of the presidential election is carried out by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in the framework of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.
- on June 24, the authorities completed the formation of precinct election commissions (PECs), which are an important element of the electoral process directly engaged in the administration of voting and counting of votes. A total of 5,723 PECs were established, comprising 63,347 members;
- due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the conditions for monitoring the formation of PECs deteriorated, as the CEC Resolution No. 13 of May 8 did not provide for the possibility of attending PEC formation meetings by representatives of NGOs accredited with the CEC, as was the case in previous elections. However, in most cases, the campaign’s representatives had the opportunity to attend the meetings (78%), while some observers were denied this opportunity without a valid reason;
- in half of the cases where PEC formation meetings were held online, the campaign’s representatives had difficulty observing them due to poor livestream quality, or did not have the opportunity to observe at all due to the absence of livestreams or interruptions. In 5%, instead of livestreams, videos of the meetings were published, of which only 20% of the observers noted their good quality;
- of the 42 PEC formation meetings monitored, representatives of nominees and the media were invited to 61% of the meetings. 45% of nominees were not discussed at the meetings, and in 35%, those present were offered to vote for a list of candidates. In commissions where the number of nominees exceeded the number of seats, the discussion was of a formal nature, and as a result of preferential voting, representatives nominated by opposition parties or other independent public organizations were not, as a rule, included in the commissions;
- in most cases, the observers noted the employment-based principle of forming the election commissions when commission members are co-workers in the same organization;
- the formation of PECs was clearly discriminatory against representatives of opposition parties: out of 545 nominees, only 6 became PEC members (1.1% of the total number of nominees), while 3,717 out of 3,844 applicants from pro-government parties were elected to the commissions (96.7% of the total number);
- PEC seats were occupied by almost all representatives nominated by the five pro-government organizations, BRSM, Belaya Rus, Women’s Union, Union of Veterans, the Belarusian Peace Fund, and the Federation of Trade Unions (FTUB), or 96.9% of those nominated;
- the total number of representatives of opposition parties in the PECs is 6, or 0.009% of the total number of PEC members, which is five times less than in the previous 2015 presidential election;
- the absence of legal guarantees for equal representation in the election commissions of all political entities participating in the elections, as before, resulted in an arbitrary and discriminatory approach to opposition parties and movements.