Thursday, October 10, 2013

OSCE Assessment of Azerbaijan's Presidential Election

At the OSCE press conference in Baku earlier today, the organization issued a negative report citing widespread problems on election day and during the vote counting process. Reports indicate that the press conference was disrupted by hecklers challenging the findings (including a candidate getting involved). Some of the OSCE's observations included:
  • Improper opening procedures in almost 20% of observed precincts.
  • Improper vote counting procedures in 58% of observed precincts.
  • Ballot box stuffing in 37 observed precincts.
  • Voters not checked for invisible ink in 19% of observed precincts, voters not inked in 11% of observed precincts, and voters "inked" by another station casting additional ballots in 7 observed precincts.
  • Voter lists or results protocols altered in 15 observed precincts.
Even observers from afar could find evidence of polling stations that did not seem to be following standard operating procedures. The screencap above is from a CEC webcam feed that I was watching, showing a ballot box open and ballots being counted 10 minutes after the polls closed. Many steps must be taken before ballot boxes may be opened and this commission (along with others I observed online) clearly took shortcuts.

In my assessment of the last presidential election (published in Comparative Political Studies), I noted that the data suggested evidence of "true" votes recorded by citizens, as well as the intervention of officials in manufacturing the results. Activities seemed to be decentralized, but resulted in the regime's preferred outcome. The process seems to have been even more uncoordinated during this election.

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