Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quality of Election Administration, Part 1

I anticipate that the issue of election quality - and accusations of fraud - will be a regular theme during both rounds. Many campaigns have alleged that improprieties will occur in 2010. The Yanukovych campaign, via an analysis by its political consultants from Manafort (more on this later), identified regions in the western part of the country where they warn of potential fraud. The Tymoshenko campaign has just criticized a Central Electoral Commission decision to deny credentials to a couple of thousand Georgians.

Based on my conversations with political observers over the past couple of days, the denial stems from decisions by actors on both sides of the debate. I was told that the Georgians were planning to stage an observation mission that would heavily oversample the east, implying that they were targeting the Party of Regions. In addition, CEC votes have reflected the "party line" on some issues, with the majority supporting the Party of Regions. Politicized electoral commissions created problems in the last presidential election (and I observed biased decision-making in polling stations that I would attribute to the capture of commissions through technical candidates). Misbehavior at the polls is likely to be more sophisticated and diffuse than in 2004, but both rounds are likely to feature allegations of improper behavior all over the country.

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