The question we are asked most often is: how do we keep elections fair?
We know that elections in Belarus have been synonymous with fraud for a very long time. As for the current elections, the authorities have no desire to even see us there. The elections have been scheduled for August, when everyone typically leaves to go on vacation or to their country homes. The elections are barely advertised. Designated campaigning points all have very little foot traffic, and campaigning period has been reduced to three weeks — shortest ever.
You are not welcome at the polls, they don’t want you to vote and generally get in their way.
What can we all do to make sure that the election results are fair and not falsified?
- There should be as few early voters as possible. Do you understand why it is convenient for the current government to make you vote before the actual election date? Exactly: to substitute your real vote with the one they need. Refuse early voting; that is your legal right. To those who try to pressure you into voting early, describe how much the election day means to you. How much you enjoy the whole thing: buying sweet pastries in the polling station cafe, talking with your neighbours in the voting line, putting the ballot paper into the box — why would anyone deprive you of such pleasures? If you are daring enough, you can tell your superiors that coercion to early voting is a crime and can be punished with a fine of up to 15 base amounts. So, you got out of having to vote early.
- Become an observer. Let’s all become observers. That is truly important and can be very helpful. The simple fact of you being there at the polling station as an observer will demonstrate that we care about what they do with our votes. Let’s observe, let’s analyze, let’s note who does what to the ballots. Let’s make it impossible to commit fraud at the polling site. Many electoral commissions, especially in the regions, have never had independent observers at their polling stations — that will come as a real surprise for them.
- Come to the polling station. Elections are not a boring chore. The day of elections is a day when we can take part in our own lives. We no longer have “apolitical” and “politicized” Belarusians; all we have are people who want to live well and free. We are going to cast our vote and fight for it.
They want to recruit, train and send 100,000 observers to 5773 stations. Why so many? It is important that on the election day every polling station has someone who represents us — the Belarusians who care. Then, if at any point you need to leave on a personal or work matter, another observer will take your duties.
The observers will be able to count how many people actually turned up, and keep an alternative tally of votes. They will make sure that the polling station records are processed immediately and displayed publicly at the polling station as required by law.
The observer will support those electoral commission members who will make the right moral choice and can suffer from it.
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Silence is assent. If we don’t use our voice, someone else might take advantage.
Together we shall prevail!