Bulgaria: President slams parties over referendum, calls on Parliament to approve electronic voting | The Sofia Globe

Bulgarian head of state Rossen Plevneliev has described the October 25 national referendum on electronic voting as an indisputable success and proof that citizens want to participate actively in decision-making in the state, while slamming political parties for their inertia towards the issue. He also disclosed that he had asked the State Agency for National Security to investigate the hacker attack that confounded the working of the Central Election Commission website on election day, and said that he saw the attack as an attempt to discredit the idea of online voting. Plevneliev was speaking on October 30 at a briefing broadcast live on radio and television, two days after the Central Election Commission said that 69.5 per cent of those who voted were in favour of introducing electronic voting in future elections and referendums, and 26 per cent voted against, with the remaining 4.5 per cent of ballots declared invalid.

Bulgaria: Bulgarians and preferential voting: shift happens | The Sofia Globe

Bulgarians appear to have taken to preferential voting with a passion, with more than third who voted in the country’s October 5 elections using their right to re-arrange the order of candidates of the party of their choice. Going by provisional figures released by the Central Election Commission, about 34 per cent of those who voted exercised preferential voting – more than 1.1 million people. Preferential voting was brought into Bulgarian law by the rewritten Election Act that was approved in March 2014. Voters’ first chance to use it was in Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections, with the most celebrated case involving the Bulgarian Socialist Party. In the May vote, then-party leader Sergei Stanishev was shoved down the list to be replaced by the candidate who was 15th on the list. Momchil Nekov, hitherto obscure, became the toast of those amused by the BSP’s misfortunes.

Kazakhstan: Election held for Senate deputies | Trend

Kazakhstan today on Oct. 1 holds the election of Senate deputies (upper house of parliament). Some 53 candidates, who have passed the registration procedure, originally submitted their request, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Kazakhstan. Some 39 people were included in the list of candidates, because 14 candidates submitted applications to quit the race. The preparation and election is observed by 166 representatives from foreign states and international organizations, as well as 110 foreign media representatives, CEC said.

Ukraine: Cyber-attack on Ukraine’s election system may force manual vote count | RT News

Ukraine’s Security Service claims that it has removed a virus at the Central Election Commission’s server, designed to delete the results of the presidential vote. According to the interior minister the cyber-attack may force a ‘manual vote count.’ “The virus has been eliminated, software is replaced. So, we now have the confidence that the Central Election Commission’s server is safe,” Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, is cited by UNN news agency. He is cited as saying that the virus was meant to destroy the results of presidential election on May 25. However the CEC programmers may not be able to fix the system in time for the elections, coup-installed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his website. “On May 22 unknown intruders destroyed the ‘Elections’ information-analytical system of the Central Elections Commission, including those of the regional election commissions.”

Ukraine: Referendum may be held during second round of presidential election | The Voice of Russia

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission and Ministry of Justice are looking into the possibility to hold an all-Ukrainian referendum on decentralization of the country during the first round of the presidential election scheduled for May 25 or during the second round due to take place on June 15, the Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council announced Tuesday. “Two dates are now on the table: May 25 and June 15. These are the dates for the two rounds of the presidential election. This is the way to ensure the low cost of the referendum. Currently the Central Election Commission is investigating whether these questions [related to the decentralization] could be printed on security paper till the first round or by the second round. This [the referendum] is most likely to take place on June 15,” Viktoriya Siumar said during a press conference adding that the final decision is expected later as it is currently being reviewed by the Central Election Commission together with the Ministry of Justice.

Bulgaria: Tussle over new Central Election Commission continues | The Sofia Globe

The political dispute over Bulgaria’s new Central Election Commission (CEC) that has put the President and the parties in power at odds was set to continue in the National Assembly on March 26 2014. A twist in the dispute came on March 25 when the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a partner in the ruling axis, said that it was giving up on getting a third seat on the CEC, in spite of its earlier demands for such a seat – and that it would opposition party GERB’s demand for a deputy chairpersonship of the commission. Centre-right GERB is the largest party in the 42nd National Assembly but also the opposition after it could find no party with which to form a governing coalition after the May 2013 national parliamentary election.

Ukraine: Vote buying a major problem at Dec. 15 by-elections | Kyiv Post

One vote at Ukraine’s by-election in five parliamentary single-mandate districts on Dec. 15 goes for Hr 400. Sometimes some food is thrown in. But the payment, cunningly, comes in two installments. The first half is paid when the person agrees to vote for the right candidate, and the other half is given after the voter presents photographic proof of the vote as they exit the polling station, Ukrainian observers have found. Ukraine is holding five by-elections to parliament today in those constituencies where fraud and manipulations were so high a year ago that the results could not be established. Those constituencies are located in Cherkasy, Kaniv, Pervomaisk, Obuhiv and in Kyiv. People in those voting districts are casting their votes in 649 polling stations. Political expert and pollster Iryna Bekeshkina says that vote buying cannot seriously influence the outcome of the election when there is a high turnout, but can effect the result in smaller towns and villages that get little attention. “And that’s exactly the case with today’s by-elections. People are concentrated on rallies and I expect no high turnout,” she said.

Kosovo: Disrupted Kosovo vote to be repeated in some Serb areas | Europe Online

“Voting material from three election centres in Mitrovica was totally unusable and the central election commission decided to annul and repeat the vote there,” commission member Nenad Rikalo said. The date for the repeat vote will be announced later, he told Serbian state television RTS. Electoral committee members prepare for voting in the municipal elections at a polling station in the ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, 03 November 2013. Voting was cut short Sunday in Mitrovica when masked Serb extremists attacked officials and smashed ballot boxes. Other violations, such as intimidation of voters, also marred the day.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Ruling coalition candidate Margvelashvili leads in Georgia’s presidential election | RT News

Georgian Dream party’s Georgy Margvelashvili from ruling coalition is leading in the presidential election in Georgia with 62.07 percent of the vote, the central election commission announced with around 95 percent of the vote counted. David Bakradze, who is supported by outgoing president Mikhail Saakashvili, is second with 21.76 percent, and former parliament speaker, Nino Burdzhanadze, is third with 10.2 per cent.  Earlier Imedi TV’s exit polls suggested that Margvelashvili was leading in the presidential election in Georgia with about 68 per cent of the vote. Bakradze was placed second with 17.11 per cent and Burdzhanadze third with 9.33 per cent.  An exit poll, performed by German GFK Company for Rustavi 2 channel, also gave a landslide victory to Margvelashvili on 66.7 percent, with his rivals Bakradze and Burdzhanadze having 20.1 and 7.5 per cent respectively.

Editorials: Azerbaijan’s ‘AppGate’ | Al Jazeera

Few people honestly thought that Azerbaijan stood a serious chance of conducting a fair and free presidential election on October 9. As I have written extensively, since the beginning of the year, Azerbaijani authorities have been engaged in an unprecedented crackdown to silence all forms of criticism and dissent. The underlying climate simply did not allow for a fair competition – not to mention that Azerbaijan has not held a single authentically democratic election since Aliyev came to power in 2003. Still, the brazen nature of the electoral violations that took place surprised even close observers of Azerbaijan. A day before the election, Meydan TV, a satellite/Internet television station, broke the story that set the tone for the whole election, which became known as the “AppGate” scandal. Meydan TV exposed an apparent fault of the Central Election Commission’s mobile phone application to allow users to track election results. On October 8, Meydan TV discovered that the results section of the application was showing, giving incumbent President Ilham Aliyev 72.76 percent of the vote before a single vote had been cast.

Azerbaijan: President’s re-election declared a day before the vote; opposition cries foul | The Washington Post

Something funny happened the day before Azerbaijan’s presidential election: The election commission announced the winner. On Tuesday, the smartphone app of the Central Election Commission released the results of Wednesday’s vote, showing President Ilham Aliyev, whose family has been at the helm of this oil-rich Caspian Sea nation for four decades, winning 73 percent of the vote. The commission explained the gaffe by saying that a software developer had released the figures as a “test” at one polling station. It apologized for the “misunderstanding.” Official results on Thursday showed Aliyev winning nearly 85 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, main opposition candidate Jamil Hasanli, trailed with less than 6 percent, followed by eight fringe candidates, according to the commission.

Azerbaijan: Ready for presidential elections | AzerNews

Azerbaijan is on the threshold of an important and historic event. Azerbaijani citizens will go the polls on October 9 to elect their president for a five-year term through general, direct and equal elections, by free, private and secret voting. The election campaigning of the presidential candidates will end on October 8, 24 hours before the polling starts at 08:00 on election day. The Central Election Commission (CEC) is taking a number of important steps to improve the election system and ensure the conduct of democratic, transparent, free and fair elections in Azerbaijan. It has installed web cameras in 1,000 polling stations across the country. Some countries require registration to obtain permission to follow the voting process through web cameras. But there are no restrictions in Azerbaijan in this regard. Any citizens will be able to follow the voting process online by accessing the following websites: cec.gov.az; infocenter.gov.az; e-gov.az. It will also be possible to follow the voting process via smartphone mobile devices.

Albania: Vote counting starts in Albanian general election | APA

Albanian authorities have started counting votes for the country’s general election, marred by gunfire at a polling station on Sunday which left one dead and two others wounded, APA reports quoting Xinhua. According to the latest data from the Central Election Commission, 226 ballot boxes out 1,422 in total in the region of Tirana have been counted, while similar progress was underway across the country. Preliminary results were expected later on Monday, whereas the official results are not expected to be announced until Tuesday. The Democratic Party has called on all political parties to proceed with calm and not to block the counting process.

Bulgaria: Elections competitive and well run, but trust in process is lacking, international observers say | Panorama

Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections on 12 May were held in a competitive environment, fundamental freedoms were respected, and the administration of elections was well managed, although the campaign was overshadowed by a number of incidents that diminished trust in state institutions and the process was negatively affected by pervasive allegations of vote-buying, international observers said in a statement today, according to the OSCE PA. The campaign was competitive and generally free of violence, and the caretaker government undertook several measures to hold genuine elections. Cases of pre-election wiretapping and concerns over last-minute incidents related to ballot security, however, weakened public confidence in the process. The campaign was at times negative, with some parties using inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric. Allegations of vote-buying continued, negatively affecting the campaign environment, the international observers noted.

Belarus: Boycotted Belarus election declared valid | UPI.com

Enough residents voted in otherwise-boycotted Parliamentary elections in Belarus to make the results valid, the country’s Central Election Commission has declared. The commission ruled Sunday that more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the elections for all 110 seats in the Belarus National Assembly, the nation’s lower house of Parliament, RIA Novosti reported. The country’s two main opposition parties — the United Civic and BPF parties –boycotted the polls because of alleged fraud, urging voters to skip what they called “pseudo-elections” for the “rubber-stamp” lower house.

Georgia (Sakartvelo): Russian election observers rejected by Georgia | Democracy & Freedom Watch

Georgia’s Central Election Commission has rejected applications from two Russian organizations to register as observers for the parliamentary election on October 1. September 9, the CEC decided to deny the State Duma of the Russian Federation and Fund for Free Election to register as observers. The rejection comes as a consequence of a recent amendment of the election code with effectively introduced a ban on election observers from any country that fails to recognize Abkahzia and South Ossetia as parts of Georgia. Russia has recognized both regions as independent states. The initiators of the law explained that the goal was to “keep away observers that might have a conflict of interest or some kind of agenda. Observers should be politically impartial.” Sergey Markov and Maxim Gregoriev, members of Public Chamber of Russia, were among those whose application was rejected.

Belarus: Parliamentary election campaign takes off | Telegraf.by

Parliamentary election campaign in Belarus took off on August 23rd, as the Secretary of the Central Election Commission of Belarus Nikolai Lozovik announced. According to him, there are candidates, who got their registration certificates on August 22nd, although according to the schedule, district election commissions can issue the certificates within two days following the registration. “Parliamentary candidates that obtained the registration certificates could start campaigning for themselves literally upon exiting the building, where a meeting of the district election commission was held,” Nikolai Lozovik said. Almost all commissions had the candidates registered on August 22nd, stated the CEC Secretary, as BelTA reported.

Russia: Election committee confirms fraud | UPI.com

Roughly 17 percent of the complaints registered with Russian election officials over the March presidential contest were confirmed, authorities said. Vladimir Putin secured a third non-consecutive term in office during March presidential elections. Sergei Danilenko, a Russian election official, said Friday 268 of the 1,564 complaints registered by the Central Election Commission “were confirmed,” reports Russia’s state-run news service RIA Novosti.

Armenia: Top election official calls Armenia’s polls “essential progress” | ArmeniaNow.com

Tigran Mukuchyan, the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), described the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia as “essential progress” as he gave a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday. In the view of the head of the body administering the process, the elections giving the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) a landslide victory amounted to the “most transparent, public and controlled” elections in Armenia ever. Mukuchyan’s comments were in harmony with what the political leadership in Armenia has said before and after the elections. President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior members of the government had pledged to hold the best elections in the history of independent Armenia – a circumstance also attached a great deal of importance to by Armenia’s international partners, notably the European Union and the United States.

Russia: Politician on Hunger Strike – A Protest Movement’s Second Wind? | NYTimes.com

“Day 24 is over,” Oleg Shein wrote in his blog just after midnight on April 8. “Tomorrow is Day 25. We are not on a suicide mission. Nor are we on a mission to make me the mayor. We are on a mission to secure fair elections that will put an end to the mafia system of government in Astrakhan.” The politician Oleg Shein and 21 of his supporters are on hunger strike — most of them since March 16. Shein ran for mayor of Astrakhan, a city of just over half a million people in southern Russia, near where the Volga River joins the Caspian Sea. On March 4, Shein lost with under 30 percent of the vote — and, like many independent candidates around the country, he claims the election was stolen.

Turkmenistan: Turkmen Central Election Commission announces “day of silence” before presidential elections – Trend

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Turkmenistan announced Feb.11 “the day of silence” before the presidential elections, the CEC said on Saturday. As many as eight candidates compete for the highest office. These include incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, deputy head of Dashoguz province Recep Bazarov, head of one of departments of Turkmengaz Kakageldy Abdyllayev, employee of Turkmenoil Gurbanmammad Mollnyazov, minister of water economy Annageldy Yazmyradov, employee of the Ministry of construction Esenkuli Gayipov, director of cotton mill Saparmyrat Batyrov and minister of energy and industry Yarmuhammet Orazgulyev. According to the law “On elections of president of Turkmenistan”, election campaign comes to an end one day before the elections. Thus, it was decided to declare February 11 “day of silence”, the CEC said in a statement.

India: No No-Vote option on electronic voting machine not this time, says poll panel | DNA

The ‘No-Vote’ option would not be available in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for the civic polls, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and State Election Commission (SEC) informed the Bombay high court on Monday. A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani was hearing a PIL filed by Thane doctor Mahesh Bedekar, seeking to maintain the privacy of people choosing not to vote for any candidate. An affidavit filed by chief electoral officer Debasish Chakrabarty before the high court stating that the Election Commission of India had considered the issue of providing a separate ‘None of the above’ panel in the EVMs.

Turkmenistan: Presidential campaign intensifies in Turkmenistan | Trend.az

The background to the January 15 Kazakhstan’s parliamentary elections has been most unfavorable. The image of stability that Kazakhstan’s government had carefully cultivated over the years has been tarnished with the outbreak of violence in an oil town of Zhanaozen. In neighboring Russia, on which Kazakhstan depends both culturally and politically, dozens of thousands of people protested in December against falsifications in the Russian Duma elections held on December 4. These combined events generated warning signs that the Kazakh authorities should brace themselves for a stormy political season. However, the elections went as planned with a high turn-out (lower than in the 2011 Presidential elections but still solid 75 %) and very few instances of protest or boycott; the expected rendering of the elections as undemocratic by the OSCE and the usual accusations by the losing parties managed to gather only about a couple of hundred protesters in the center of Almaty on January 17. The charges leveled by the OSCE were that the elections “though well administered, did not meet key democratic principles.” As the OSCE statement said, “the authorities did not provide the necessary conditions for the conduct of genuinely pluralistic elections.” The accusations of not facilitating a “genuine pluralism” and not allowing all aspiring candidates and parties to enter free competition for the parliament seats comes as no surprise. After all, in a widely-held view, the authoritarian regime in Kazakhstan has been faking democratic processes for quite a while. So, now, on top of the previous simulations, it began to fake a multi-party parliament with 83 seats in the lower chamber given to the ruling Nur Otan party, 8 seats to the “Ak Zhol” (translated as “bright path”), 7 seats to the KNPK (communist) party, and 9 seats reserved for the representatives of ethnic minorities through the Assembly of the People.

The obvious question is: why go to the trouble of faking a multi-party system if the parliament is overshadowed by the President anyway, and the most important policy decisions are made in the government and in the corridors of the Presidential Apparatus which are then just rubber-stamped in parliament? As several Kazakhstani analysts, such as Daniyar Ashimbayev and Dosym Satpayev, have noted, after many years of consolidating power in the institute of presidency, the President himself and the ruling elite now want to transform the system from the presidential to the parliamentary-presidential. Having the almost omnipotent first President in the figure of Nazarbayev is seen as an exceptional situation of the first decades of independence and it is presumed and hoped that the next President, whoever he/she is, should have far less power than President Nazarbayev had. In line with this vision for the future, the parliament has already started flexing its powers through the vote of confidence for the newly appointed “old” government of Karim Masimov. All presidential appointees have to be approved by parliament and it is possible theoretically and legally (although it is difficult to imagine now) that the parliament might not always agree with the President.

Russia: Opposition parties seek new Election Commission before presidential poll | RT

Leaders of three opposition factions in the lower house have prepared a bill demanding that Russia’s new Central Election Commission is elected before the March presidential poll. Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party and Sergey Mironov of the Fair Russia party submitted the suggestion to dissolve the Central Election Commission headed by its current chairman Vladimir Churov, and form new commissions starting from district level.

Russia: Putin foe could be barred from Russian election | Reuters

Russian liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky could be barred from running against Vladimir Putin in a presidential election after officials said Monday there were problems with his registration as a candidate. Opinion polls show Yavlinsky has no chance of winning the March 4 election but the refusal to let him run would be a slap in the face for leaders of protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding fair elections and political reform. Central Election Commission officials told Russian news agencies there were errors in about a quarter of the 2 million signatures of support Yavlinsky had submitted as a requirement to enter the election, much higher than the permitted amount.

Latvia: Latvian Vote on language issue set Feb. 18 | LatviansOnline

A national referendum on whether Russian should become Latvia’s second official language is set for Feb. 18, the Central Election Commission announced Jan. 3 in Rīga.

The referendum will decide whether proposed legislation to amend the constitution will be adopted. The legislation would change five sections in the constitution, including Paragraph 4, which sets Latvian as the sole official language. At least half of all eligible voters, or nearly 772,000 citizens, would need to vote in favor of the referendum question for it to pass, according to Latvian law.

Russia: Official: poll violations real and imaginary — RT

A top official of the Central Election Commission has admitted that some of the violations reported by vigilant citizens actually took place, but said that in most cases the suspicions proved to be unfounded. The deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev, told reporters on Sunday evening that the reports about violations on parliamentary elections were partially confirmed. He named invisible ink, illegal propaganda, and the so called “merry-go-round” – false voting by a group of specially prepared people.

The official said that the invisible ink trick was disclosed in time so the violation did not even happen and so it was more correct to talk of attempted violation. As for the “merry-go-round”, the deputy head of the commission said that the reports were tremendously exaggerated. For example, some observers accused their opponents of bringing 50 cars with 400 people to one polling station with the intent of affecting the vote. Such an action was hardly imaginable and had not been confirmed, Ivlev said.

He also said that many reports simply showed a lack of understanding of the election procedure. One of the party representatives was accused of keeping a copy of the Constitution on his working desk during the elections and one man said he had noticed a sticker on the passport of one of the voters and suggested that this was a special sign allowing him to vote many times under some secret agreement. “Colleagues, I have a sticker on my passport myself as I need it to distinguish between my internal and foreign passports. Where is the violation here?” At the same time, the official stressed that all reports of violations will be thoroughly checked with participation of police and prosecutors.

South Ossetia: Presidential poll goes to second round | rt.com

Presidential elections in the republic of South Ossetia will continue to a second round as none of the 11 candidates managed to top the 50 per cent of the vote required by law.

“None of the candidates will be elected president of South Ossetia,” the head of the Central Election Commission, Bella Plieva, said on Monday after 98.84% of the votes had been counted. “Most of the votes went to Anatoly Bibilov (25.44%) and Alla Dzhioeva (25.37%)… If none of the candidates gets the necessary amount of ballots, the Central Election Commission calls a rerun election.”

Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission receives 127 complaints about violations during presidential elections |eng.24.kg

The Central Election Commission of Kyrgyzstan (CEC) had received 127 claims and complaints about violations committed during presidential elections. This was reported by the member of the CEC Gulnara Dzhurabaeva at the CEC’s session. According to her, 92 complaints were received from citizens, 24 – from presidential candidates and their representatives. The latter had 30 statements and 24 applications of citizens.

Russia: Electronically verified elections | Russia & India Report

In 1994, when the Russian budget was more or less equivalent to that of New York City, the state decided to begin development of the Automated State Election System (SAS). Prior to the development of SAS, Russian electoral rolls were printed on typewriters and ballot papers were hand-counted. In the 1993 elections, it took election officials 12 days to count the votes. SAS, which took about a year to develop and launch, was built on a foundation of Soviet technological innovations, but some of the world’s leading IT companies, including HP, Oracle, and Cisco Systems, also contributed.

“With the creation of the Elections SAS, we became pioneers. And to this day, not a single country in the world has a system like ours,” said Mikhail Popov, head of the Federal Center of Information Technologies under the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, in a 2009 interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. It’s possible that he is over-praising his creation. But the SAS has served more than 20,000 election campaigns at various levels without significant technological failures.