For the past weeks, the news from Central Election Commission meetings looked like battle loss reports. Every evening media reported that certain number of single-mandate candidates withdrew their applications for participation in parliamentary elections. According to the law, candidates had time until October 15 to change their minds, and the final deregistration took place on October 17 - all applications were considered and decisions were announced.

Anyway, candidates could afford to withdraw, as originally the total number of registered single-mandate candidates made 3 127 people, running both as self-nominees and by party nomination. Now the number of single-mandate candidates is more moderate - 2 thousand 655 people. CEC deregistered 475 candidates, which makes 15% or the sixth part of the total number.

The big number of those, who changed their minds, was not a surprise. It is a known fact that among registered candidates there were many dummies, whose only goal was to bring loyal people in district election commissions, to split votes of a rival or simply to earn some money. President of the analytical center "Politics" Ihor Popov notes that taking into account the reasons of withdraw, the percentage is not that big. "A part of withdrawals is a result of agreements - deregistration of less competitive candidates with compensation of expenses for campaign and caution money, plus certain bonus. And there is nothing from democracy here - pure business."

However, for the first time in several election processes, due to such mass deregistration CEC has real problem with printing voting papers for single-mandate electoral districts. CEC deputy head Jeanna Usenko-Chernaya told ForUm that "routinely the printing of voting papers is a simple technical process, but this time it has become a serious problem." 

The official underlined that if voting papers had been printed with data of already deregistered candidates, members of district election commissions would have had to rubber-stamp "registered" in front of the names of ex-candidates. Such situation is risky, as the stamp can be accidently or deliberately moved to a different position with another name. As a result, wrongly stamped voting paper will be recognized as invalid. "It can be used as a technology to 'kill' votes for certain candidates. HQs of certain candidates can use this technology to manipulate the results of the voting in a district."

Thus, if the full printing run of voting papers on party lists was prepared in advance and the distribution among districts started on October 3, the printing of voting papers for single-mandate districts was postponed in order not to reprint them later. Moreover, the printing process is a costly affair. For example, printing of one voting paper on party lists (with 22 positions) costs the state 0.87 kopecks, and one voting paper for single-mandate districts costs on average 0.72 kopecks (the number of single-mandate candidates within one district varies from 4 to 48). However, CEC could not manage to escape reprinting completely. Due to the deregistration of certain single-mandate candidates at the last moment CEC ordered reprinting of voting papers for 22 out of 225 districts.

Ihor Popov says CEC was right to postpone the mass printing of voting papers for single-mandate districts. Withdrawal at last moment was a certain technology. The commissions had to rubber-stamp 'deregistered' in front of the names of ex-candidates, and the stamp often went to a wrong name - a popular candidate for example. The problem has been solved. CEC has introduced a norm that application on withdraw can be submitted not later than 12 days before the elections, and the decision on the submitted application must be made not later than 10 days before the elections. Thus, we can say now there is no more problems with printing voting papers.

Indeed, it is already too late to withdraw, but many single-mandate candidates are still trying: CEC keeps receiving applications on withdrawal from the lists, deputy CEC head Andriy Mahera told ForUm. "We keep receiving applications on withdrawal, but according to the law CEC has not right to consider them. CEC has a right to deregister not later than 12 days before the election date," Mahera specified.

It turns out that those candidates who changed their minds regarding running for parliamentary seats after October 15 will remain candidates!?

Whether you want it or not, people will vote for them. We wonder, whether any of such 'involuntary' candidates will deny his deputy seat in case he gets elected?  Doubtfully! But this is a different story.

Yulia Artamoshchenko


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