Reports of Potential Election Irregularities in Ukraine?

by Tammy Lynch

(UPDATE 8 AM EST: The Central Election Commission confirmed the death by apparent heart attack of the Ivano-Frankivsk polling precinct secretary, but said precinct ballots were undisturbed. This contradicts claims by candidate Yulia Tymoshenko’s campaign manager that the ballots were missing. See below.)

In an environment when both sides likely are attempting to create a pretext for legal challenges to the final outcome of Ukraine’s presidential election run-off, it’s not easy to know what is real, what is important and what is truly election related.

Ukraine’s domestic election monitoring groups, however, are often best placed to understand what is happening on the ground.

In its noontime report on election day activities so far, Ukraine’s the Committee of Voters of Ukraine expressed concern over tensions at polling stations among election commission members, buses arriving with soldiers to vote and – most important – allowing a significant number of voters to cast ballots who were not on the voting list prior to election days.

This “mass inclusion” of voters on voting lists on the day of the election is prohibited unless approved by a court or higher commission order.

The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations expressed concern over the addition of 400,000 voters to voting lists during the first-round of the election “without a decision of a higher commission or a court, as is required by law.” ENEMO has 450 observers in Ukraine from throughout the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

This large number of voters added to lists on election day during round one – and the possibility that it could be higher this round – means that it potentially could be significant to the election outcome.

Just moments ago, the Tymoshenko campaign said that a polling precinct secretary in Ivano Frankivsk Oblast had been found dead. The campaign says the safe at the precinct was open and ballots were missing. Ivano-Frankivsk has historically supported Tymoshenko or other perceived West-leaning candidates.

Seven exit polls will be released around 8 PM Ukraine time.

What’s your prediction? Let us know below.

For discussion of the poll, see the Facebook group Ukraine Presidential Election 2010 or Ukrainian Presidential Elections.

Or, as usual, @TammyLynch