Do members of district commissions know, how risky their work is?

On April, 9 2010 Belarusian Helsinki Committee directed a request to the Central election commission of the Republic of Belarus, where it asked to explain, which method should be used by each member of district commissions to count the votes.

The request was caused by the fact, that the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus regulates the procedure of vote-counting, but does not specify, which concrete method should be used to count the bulletins and how obligations are divided among the commissions’ members.

According to BHC observers’ information, the following method is often used in practice: each member of the district commission counts only a certain part of the bulletins and then hands the results over to the chairperson of the commission. Afterwards all the figures are summed up and the final results are inserted into the protocol.

Thus, it comes out, that such a method does not allow the commissions’ members to see the entire counting process. They can only be responsible for the credibility of results of those bulletins, which they have counted themselves. In this case they simply do not have the right sign the final protocol, since they have not seen the results, specified in it.

BHC considers, that such a method does not realise the principle of collective nature, specified in the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus. BHC lawyers consider, that a sufficient level of transparency could be only guaranteed, when all the members took part in the counting process and had the possibility to observe each bulletin with the voter’s mark.

On April, 15 2010 BHC received an answer from the Chairperson of the Central election commission Lidia Ermoshina. It is stated in the letter, the “the question … does not require a detailed regulation…, since each commission makes its decision on the grounds of the volume of work, the number of voters and commission members, their work experience and so on”.

Such a position of the Central election commission on votes-counting, an utmost important part of the electoral process, can not but surprise us, since securing fair elections is the most significant task of this body.

In this respect we only have a rhetorical question: Do members of district commissions realize, that such a method of votes-counting makes them potential accomplices of possible results falsifications, which is considered to be a crime, according to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus?