Valiantsin Stefanovich: "Not only the observer should be able to monitor the counting of votes, but the procedure itself should be transparent"
Last week, the CEC Secretary Mikalai Lazavik said in a talk show on the ONT TV channel that observers should be possible to directly observe the counting of votes.
“Our position is as follows. We even specifically amended the law that the observer has to observe vote count in the conditions providing visibility of the vote count. Not just having to watch from a distance, but should see the ballots being counted. This is a requirement of the law. Therefore, if someone says that such an opportunity is not provided, it means that the commission violates the law. And it is necessary to blow the whistle then,” said Mikalai Lazavik.
However, representatives of the "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" campaign are not sure that the work of the observers will not be interfered with, and that they would indeed be able to freely carry out their functions.
Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich stresses:
“We, on our part, welcome such positions, which are forwarded by the CEC to subordinate commissions. But it should be noted that the practice is quite different: very often, observers are not allowed to approach the table on which the counting of votes is carried out, and even if they are allowed – they will not be able to accurately observe the counting procedure, as the procedure is such that the observer will not be able to understand what is happening on the table where the ballots are being counted.
Currently, the ballots are counted, as a rule, by all the members of the commission and each counts his pack of ballots. Unfortunately, the CEC refused to regulate this process so that one member of the commission counted and demonstrated each ballot both to the members of the commission and the observer, and announced what is in the ballot. And indeed, such a procedure would allow the observer to understand what happens during the count, and to relate what he had observed with the results which will then be fixed in the final report. Such a procedure is reflected in the recommendations of the ODIHR on the basis of observation of previous elections, which has not been implemented by the Belarusian authorities in the current legislation. Therefore, we welcome the fact that the observers will not be forced to stay 10 meters away from the table, as it happened before, and they could see nothing but the backs of the commission members. Nevertheless, we believe that the procedure itself should be transparent. It is only under such conditions that the observer can efficiently monitor the vote count.”