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Vulnerable voters and voting vulnerability

October 23, 2014

As has been mentioned recently, the number of internally displaced persons due to the undeclared war in eastern Ukraine is a particularly sad, and is going to be an enduring social issue for Ukrainian society and government alike, for some considerable time to come.

Notwithstanding what will undoubtedly prove to be a humanitarian calamity at best, disaster at worst, over the winter months, there are also the elections on Sunday to consider and the ability to the displaced to vote.

Normally if voting outside a person’s registered home rayon polling station there are procedures to follow that allow for it.

It would also be foolish to expect that a registered IDP will automatically appear on an accessible voters list in their current temporary location.  In any circumstances that would be too much like joined up government in Ukraine, and these are exceptional circumstances.

However, a law was passed allowing the possibility of a temporary change in the voting place (at the time of the election or referendum) of the voter, who on the day of voting for a good reason not to vote on his election address, without changing the electoral address.

But this clearly has certain problematic issues and does not seem to provide any mechanisms to prevent carousel voting on election day.

If voters without being registered to an address, or a relevant constituency address, can vote on the production of a passport, how does that stop them registering at and then voting at, several polling stations across several different city rayons that day?  We are, after all, talking about traditional paper ballots and not e-voting whereby a computerised system may detect the same passport number voting twice or three times at different locations on polling day.

Needless to say, with a little organisation and a dash of criminal intent, some local electoral outcomes could indeed be perverted to the point of changing outcomes – and any appeals are not going to be dealt with in a timely manner when trying to find added passport numbers to electoral lists across an entire city and numerous polling stations within.

Perhaps effecting actual results is less of a problem that a rumour/propaganda mill may simply employ such a possibility enough to undermine the entire process, when the actual effect was minimal.  Perception warping reality and thus corroding legitimacy.

There are thousands and thousands of historical cases where legitimate and registered voters have found themselves to be missing from the electoral register and have thus been prevented from casting their vote.  There have been occasions when those who have lawfully and dutifully completed the procedures to vote in a different city, who have then found themselves to be able to unconsciously and unknowingly carry out quantum physics and vote in two places at the same time.  That is not withstanding entire legions of the dead, that despite having passed on into eternal slumber, have not only remained on voters lists, but managed to cast their ballot too.

Whilst there is clearly an attempt being made to facilitate maximum democratic inclusiveness in the current circumstances, what potential price to the integrity of the democratic outcome with a seemingly lacking mechanism to prevent carousel and/or simply fraudulent voting?

If such mechanisms exist, then they are proving very difficult to find and cite – and even if they do, how could any such mechanism be effectively implemented on voting day?

Thus, as we ponder whether the metaphorical glass is half full, or half empty, after this legislative change, it is probably necessary to acknowledge that it is actually the wrong glass – albeit the only one that could be found in an emergency.

 

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