Electoral process through the eyes of observers in Hrodna
Observation of both early voting and the main election day in Hrodna has clearly shown that voter turnout at the polling stations where the observers counted the voters throughout the five days of early voting was 20-23%, which is considerably less than the number of early voters at the polling stations where there were no independent observers.
Members of local precinct commissions were mainly employees of the same government-owned organization or enterprise. This applies primarily to the polling stations, which were located in the buildings of secondary schools. Not only were all the commissions formed from the teachers and the school administration staff, but all the observers (except for independent ones) were nominated by pro-government organizations: Youth Union, Belaya Rus, Belarusian Peace Foundation, trade unions and other NGOs. In fact, fake observers were ordered to be present during voting and to issue pre-arranged statements, reporting no violations. Most of these observers did not even wait for the announcement of official voting results.
Even at the polling stations where independent observers counted all voters, the district commissions overstated the turnout by an average of 40-80 people. The figures were mainly due to artificially boosting the number of those who voted at home.
Moreover, not all voters who have been included in the list for voting at home, had really requested to do.
The counting process was not transparent, the ballots were not shown to the observers and the separately counted votes were not announced. Tabulation was done by chairmen and secretaries of the commissions, who silently wrote the numbers and then summed them up. However, in some polling stations the observers could see separate stacks of ballots for each of the candidates and have some idea of the number of votes cast. The observers’ written requests to arrange a separate counting of votes were ignored by the election officials.
In most of the city’s polling stations, chairmen of the commissions refused to announce the number of voters on the voting lists during the early voting campaign. All complaints against the violations were ignored. For example, observer Uladzimir Khilmanovich has not received any answers to his complaints sent to the CEC and the election commission of Hrodna’s Lieninski district.