Professionals or Public Activists? CEC Chair Contradicts Herself
When district election commissions were formed, Lidya Yarmoshyna, chair of the Central Election Commission, repeatedly stated in many interviews and speeches that commissions should consist of “professionals”: lawyers and other people experienced in working in election commissions. That’s how the CEC chairperson explained why representatives of political parties in opposition had not been included into election commissions. During complaint consideration by CEC Lidya Yarmoshyna explained the obvious mistakes in the work of district commissions by the fact that “commission members are not professionals, but public activists”.
A typical discussion took place in the Central Election Commission on 24 September. CEC considered the appeal of Leanid Mlynets against the decision of district election commission of South-West election district #100. He did not get registered because the commission found over 15 % of invalid signatures in his signature sheets. In addition, he failed to indicate information about a car in his income declaration. In reality, the car had been sold, and the car was totaled in a car accident which led to the death of the new owner.
Leanid Mlynets complained that the election commission refused to consult him and explain how to fill in the documents. On his request the commission chair said he was not a lawyer and the commission had no members who were lawyers.
Leanid Mlynets: That’s my understanding that a commission should consist of professionals.
Lidya Yarmoshyna: They are public activists.
Leanid Mlynets: But a commission should be headed by a professional!
Lidya Yarmoshyna: Commissions work for 70 days! What professionals are you talking about?
Leanid Mlynets: can I say something else?
Lidya Yarmoshyna: No! That’s it!
Should commission members consult the potential candidates? Human Rights Center "Viasna" lawyer Valantsin Stefanovich gives an answer: “According to Art 42 clause 5 of the Election Code, commission members shall “assist candidates in nomination”. That’s what the Election Code says, but usually the commissions fail to do that. At the same time, many representatives of political parties with legal education and good knowledge of election law had not been included into election commissions”.