Students are forced to vote early
October 6 “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” have started receiving e-mail letters witnessing the forcing of students to early voting and the related release from classes on Thursday, Friday and next Monday.
In particular, student D. from the Belarusian State Agrarian Technical University (Minsk) stated: “In particular, the dean of our faculty informed us through the group elders that we needed to vote early as soon as possible. Therefore, all classes were canceled today, on October 6. Moreover, the classes were canceled for Friday, October 9, and Monday, October 12, due to the presidential elections. A part of our faculty was made to write applications for being released from classes for family reasons. The dean's office promised problems in further studies in case somebody didn't take part in early voting. As a result, according to my observations only 1 out of 19 members of my group haven't voted early yet.”
Another letter came from a student of Belarusian State University (Minsk): “All students living in the dormitory in Kastryčnickaja Street, 10/1, are herded for early voting by 7 p.m. today.”
Similar information can be obtained through social networks.
The NGO “Student Council” launched online-monitoring of violations of students' rights during the early voting so that every student who faced violations of his/her rights could send the relevant information. The geography of violations is also reflected on a map.
“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” also accept information about electoral violations to the E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Mahilioŭ, an observer of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) Ales Burakou stated that members of precinct election commission No. 4, located in the building of the Mahilioŭ State Polytechnic College, phone to their students and propose them to vote early.
When the students come to the polling station, each of them receives a postcard with his/her name and a fridge magnet.
Mr. Burakou believes that postcards with names are a perfect way to control the young electors, as in such a way it is possible to determine who has and who hasn't come to the polling stations.
The observer also states that 19 students of the college voted early in the first half of the day.
In Homieĺ, an observer of the United Civil Party Aliaksandr Herd witnessed how the
the master of inservice training of the Homieĺ Polytechnic College Ala Shpadaruk brought for early voting two groups of college students.
It's worth noting that polling station No. 12 of the Centraĺny district of Homieĺ is located in the building of the Socio-Cultural Center, and the precinct commission is headed by the college master, Aliaksandr Savitski.
“At 11.25 a.m. a woman came to the precinct and cheerfully reported to members of the precinct commission that she had brought for early voting two groups of students. She is a master of inservice training and is not an elector registered at the polling station. The organized bringing of students for voting is an evident violation of the electoral laws,” commented Mr. Herd.
According to him, 126 people voted at polling station No. 12 by 1.30 p.m. on October 6. Most of them were students of the college. There were only some 5-7 pensioners among the voters. All in all, more than 1.9 thousand electors are registered at the polling station.
At other polling stations the number of early voters is quite modest. In particular, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. only 19 people voted at polling station No. 10 of the Centraĺny district of Homieĺ, where the voting is monitored by the coordinator of the campaign “Right to Elect” Aliaksandr Sharypau. Most of them were pensioners.
At polling station No. 27 in Babrujsk, located at the Road Transport College, students vote in groups. As reported by an independent observer Aliaksandr Smirnou, 118 people voted there by 4.30 p.m.
“ The total number of electors registered at this polling station is 853 people. In the first half of the day there voted 105 people,” tells Mr. Smirnou. “After that, the flow of voters considerably decreased. However, the member of the commission Natallia Karol, unashamed, gave loud orders to the elder of a student group to bring them to early voting as soon as possible in order to provide a higher turnout.”
It's worth noting that Natallia Karol works as a teacher at the Road Transport College.
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