On August 29 ForUm held an online conference with deputy head of the Central Election Commission Andriy Magera. In the course of the conference, Mr. Mahera told about his vision of election process, about preventive measures against election frauds and other. Here is the full text of the conference:

Olena: Dear Mr. Mahera, is our country capable to vote, I mean the electorate?

- It depends on the level of political culture of the voters. I don't think that a kilo of buckwheat or 50 hryvnias from a candidate must the decisive factor of the vote. I want to point out that whatever they tell you, nobody can reveal the secrecy of your voting.

Iryna: Do you believe our election process becomes more and more transparent with every passing elections?

- That's an interesting question. I believe the most transparent elections ever held were elections of 2006-2007. The time will show what happens this time. Transparency depends not only on authorities, but on voters as well.

Lisovska: Andriy, do you have personal information about every candidate. How many millionaires and ordinary people are among them? What's the percentage?

- Unfortunately, I cannot tell you exact statistics data, as no survey has been held. But of course there are both millionaires and people with modest income.

Volodymyr: Andriy, you were accused of knowing about absence of Satsyuk from Ukraine but not warning other CEC members about it. Mass media wrote a lot about Satsyuk's absence. So how come that you did not know, as you claim?

I want to point out that any documents related to any MP candidate are available to the members of the Central Executive Committee and the employees of the Secretariat. Hence, I don't believe others did not know about it.

The current law on parliamentary election does not provide for a mechanism for the CEC to check information about MP candidates. Place of residence de facto and de jure - is not exactly the same. In this regard, I advise you to read the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Melnychenko case of 2004.

Nazar: Do you think the Supreme Court will stand by your side? If not, do you face dismissal? Are you afraid to lose your position?

- The law on CEC stipulates the grounds for early dismissal of a CEC member. If the President decides there are grounds, a corresponding request can be send to the parliament.

I am 38, and no, I don't hold onto the position. There are no irreplaceable people.

Rosalia Mykolaivna: I have two questions. First is if there a possibility that the CEC staff changes during the election process. The second is if you have appealed the court decision.

- The probability that the CEC staff changes during the election process depends on only two authorities - the President and the Verkhovna Rada.

As for the court appeal, according to the Administrative Litigation Process Code of Ukraine (the Article 177), the decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine is final and is not subject to appeal, a cassation one including. I appealed the sentence of the first instance, and all three solutions of the Court were not in my favor. Incidentally, the same board of three judges presided over all three hearings.

Mir: Hello. In your opinion, what are major differences between this and previous elections? Are there any innovations in technologies and CEC working process?

- The change of the electoral system from proportional to the proportional-majoritarian created a lot of difficulties for the organizers of the election process. Just the registration of candidates in majority districts has already provoked many problems. In contrast to the 2010 presidential election, the first month of the electoral process in 2012 turned out to be complex, in the organization prospect especially, not speaking about emotional issues, which arose as a result of controversial court decisions.

PanKotsky: Tell me please, will all the records be kept only in the state language or in a regional as well? Will you duplicate documents in two languages? In short, which language the central, district and polling commissions will work with?

- According to the law, records, newsletters and other election documents shall be kept only in the state language.

Roman: How much will these elections cost Ukraine? What are the key cost items?

- As you know, the estimate of cost for the elections makes about 1 billion 200 million UAH. The cost of video monitoring makes approximately 1 billion UAH. Still, the wages for district and polling commission members make more than 80% of the whole expenditure for the election process.

Tandem: In your estimations, what are approximate costs of the election campaign for one single-mandate candidate? Does regional location influence the amount of expenses?

- Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the numbers, as I've never made the analysis. Besides, numbers announced by experts differ as well.

Orest: Now they speak a lot about installation of video surveillance in all polling stations. Will it be done? Will it be effective?

- The CEC will create all possible conditions to comply with the law. As for effectiveness of video surveillance, I've already expressed my opinion on this issue. I believe the effectiveness is low. 
Sasha Kyiv: installation of video surveillance in every voting station cost the taxpayers pretty sum of money. Are there other, more effective methods to prevent frauds?

- In my opinion, the most effective methods to prevent election frauds under modern conditions are proper formation of voting stations and their members, presence of observers, including international ones and strong and unbiased judicial branch of power.

Viktor: Imagine a situation, when a candidate declared 100 million in the bank in 2011, but his family's income did not exceed one million, and apart from this, the candidate failed to provide the source of the money. Are there any sanctions provided for such behavior?

- This interesting questions must be directed to the tax service, but such information is not and cannot be a ground to cancel candidate's registration.

Citizen: How much does the state allocate for the election campaign? And is there any control over the expenditures?

- State budget allocations for the election campaign make 108 million hryvnias. Of course, there is a strict control over expenditure of every hryvnia.

Fenya: How will CEC combat dirty election technologies, like merry-go-round voting and others?

- The CEC will create all possible conditions to comply with the law. I cannot assert that there will be no violations at least for one simple reason - the human factor.

Nadin: What risks do clone candidates bring? It's not a secret this is an example of an election fraud.
- From a legal point of view, the actions of such persons do not violate the law. However, the change of name and surname on the eve of the election process in order to participate in the election may mislead voters. The question is open for expert discussions.

Maxim: Deputy of a local government, who passed there by the list of "People's movement" party, is now running for parliament from Klichko's UDAR party. Is it legal for the district commission to register the traitor?

- Members of election commissions can be members of political parties, and not obligatory of those parties, which nominated them for their positions.

Volodymyr: There were cases, when representatives of small parties refused their quotas for representatives in election commission in favor of the Party of Regions. Such situation has been registered in Kharkiv. Can it result in the situation, when the ruling party will control all polling elections commissions?

- Personally, I don't like that part of the law on the election commission, which stipulates that every political party which nominated at least one candidate has a right to form election commission. In my opinion, it would be better if this right were given only to the parties that run for parliament with party lists. In such case we would have had only 22 participants of the draw, instead of 81. However, this question must be redirected to the law on elections.

Vadym Lubchak, "Den": There is a situation: two election commissions of Kherson region cannot find their heads - 75-year-old man and 20-year-old girl. The commissions' heads are supposed to appoint commission members within three days after their nomination. The time is running out, but they are nowhere to find. How come people, who do not even live in this region, are appointed the commission heads? What is this absurd situation?

- That's exactly what I was talking about before. According to the law, every party which nominates at least one single-mandate candidate has a right to nominate members for all 225 election commission of the country, including commission heads. For the record - there are 25 political parties, which nominated only one single-mandate candidate. You do the math.

Larysa: Andriy, CEC is the only state structure which has relatively constant staff composition since 2004. Do you personally or your colleagues feel the pressure from every new political force in power?

- CEC does not exist in vacuum. Of course, there is certain pressure, but it is not a problem. The problem is to keep this pressure from crossing the line. In general, I believe that pressure from the civil society is a good thing.

Yuri: Is it true that the number of voting papers is a secret? Is it kept in secret in order to have a possibility to falsify the elections? If not, how many voting papers will be printed this time?

- Voting papers for all elections are printed by the state printing enterprise "Ukraine". Number of papers depends on the number of voters in a certain election district plus 0.5% of spare papers. For the past 8 years we've never had complaints about false voting papers. I cannot give you 100% guarantee, but we have methods to control this issue.

Vitaly from Cherkassy: If I am offered money in exchange for voting for this or that candidate, what should I do? Where should I go to complain? Or should I just take the money...?

- I want to tell you that you are free to vote for any candidate you prefer, and additional conditions you are talking about do not change this and have no influence on your choice. In other words, you don't owe anything to anyone.

Oleksiy: If you could change something in the election system of Ukraine, what will it be?

- I believe Ukraine should return to proportional election system, but with open party lists and names of all candidates. This system is less corruptive and it will force political parties to take their candidates and their promises more serious.

Serhiy: Can an ordinary citizen somehow prevent election frauds?

- Surely, any citizen of Ukraine can register as an official observer from this or that candidate, but at the very minimum he has to come to a voting station and fill the voting paper. Election results depend not on discussions in social networks and not on absenteeism, but on responsible civil position. There are no perfect candidates. As one of wise men said - the state's task is not to create heaven on earth but to prevent hell.

Rukh: People say you support the opposition. Is it true? What political party would you join if you choose to?

- As any citizen of Ukraine, I have my political preferences and I go to vote. However, it is not quite ethical for a member of CEC to speak loud about his preferences.

Serhiy Mariupol: What are your plans for future career? What would you do if you were not a CEC member?

- I am interested in the Constitutional rights, apart from civil and political rights. I believe the law issues are very actual in our society.

Lane: What are the CEC working hours during elections? Do you sleep at all? )

- No more 8-hour working days of course. We work 10-12 hours per day. Since the beginning of the election process, I have not had a single day off. But I sleep soundly. )

Uliana: Have you ever been blackmailed in order to influence your decisions?

- There were attempts, but I believe people are smart enough to see where it goes and from whom it comes.

Using the opportunity, I want to thank all the readers for their support and active life positions. Special thanks to ForUm for granted possibility to express my position on urgent issues. We'll keep in touch. Sincerely yours.


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