Compulsion is typical for early voting
Teachers and staff of Baranavichy schools are actively urged to vote early. The staff lists are kept in the teachers’ room: those who have voted tick off their last times. Mikalai Khitryk, head of the city education department, who has been recently appointed to the office, is personally traveling from school to school and urging the teachers to vote early. He “asks insistently” the school principals, who, in their turn, are no less insistent in demanding from their subordinates to vote early.
In aviation plant, for instance, workers were allowed to leave work three hours early on the first day of early voting.
Precinct # 5 of Baranavichy -Zakhodniaya district includes an open-type work camp. The prisoners (about 200 people) marched to the polling station as a group.
Early voting in Mazyr started in a very intense manner. As usual, state educational institutions can get the first prize here: Mazyr Teachers’ University and Mazyr secondary medical school. It is quite clear here: students are not against voting early as they want to go home for the week-end. However, the situation looks differently in case of enterprise top managers who directly force their subordinates to vote early and control teh process personally. For example, director of Belaruskabel state enterprise H. S. Ivanou, who is also head of precinct election commission, during staff meeting warned shop superintendents and heads of departments about their personal responsibility for participation of their subordinates in early voting. He even provided the list of the personnel with their phone numbers to the heads of departments so that they could ask and remind their subordinates about their duty of honor.
We observed the growing number of early voters at all polling stations. Senior citizens mostly voted during the first hour. Then it was calm until lunch. Workers voted mainly from 4 to 5 p.m. On the question why they were not at work they answered that they had been allowed to leave in order to vote early. And again almost no one appeared later.
Voters of precinct # 19 of Vitebsk-Horkauskaya district # 17 are leading among the targeted precincts. During the two days of early voting almost 24% have already voted (10.14% uring the first day and 13.52% during the second day). With such speed of voting we will not be surprised if the polling station will look deserted on the Election Day.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections