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September 17, 2013, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed in the second reading and as the whole the bill №0869 "On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine regarding the Social Protection of Homeless Persons." It is to enter into force upon the date of publication and will determine who, where and when should provide "a person of no fixed abode" with ability to vote in the election.
Under the document, the competence of the executive bodies of village, town and city councils shall include: provision of social services to homeless persons; exercise in accordance with the law of measures aimed at preventing homelessness. The bill defines the rules for entering the data on the homeless persons into the Register of Voters.
The bill was supported by 340 MPs, that is, by the overwhelming majority. However, such a massive vote did not prevent conversations about possible falsification of election results with help of the homeless, hidden under the guise of social protection mechanism.
ForUm asked political experts whether Ukrainians have to be afraid of introduction of the law, enhancing social protection of the homeless persons as regards the right of every citizen of Ukraine to the expression of will:
Andriy Mahera, CEC deputy chairman:
- In fact, the bill is purely technical in nature. After all, people without a permanent residence have had the right to be included in the lists of voters, and they have been included in the lists submitted by the appropriate social services.
The only question is who will accompany such citizens now. Accounting functions will now be transferred from the institutional structure to the local government bodies. That is the only difference between what it has been and what it will be.
Moreover, there are about 18 thousand such people in Ukraine and they can make no difference.
Ruslan Koshulynsky, Parliament’s vice speaker:
- Tell me, is fire a good or bad thing? Of course, much can be figured out, but this law, provided it is implemented properly, is to ensure the social protection of homeless people without registration - their right to be voters. However, the fraudsters can turn anything into a tool for deception.
Oleksandr Yefremov, chairman of the Party of regions faction:
- This law poses no risk of falsification of election results. It was not generally considered as part of the campaign. The law covers the human attitude to the people: if someone does not have a permanent place of residence, he should not be deprived of civil rights as well.
Petro Symonenko, chairman of the Communist Party faction:
- Legislative mechanisms are searched for and are laid in legislative space on the eve of the elections. It is not surprising fact that such steps are being taken.
Andriy Pavlovsky, MP (Batkivshchyna faction):
- Under the guise of a noble goal of social protection, the resumption of the rights of the homeless, the bill actually stipulates the ability to manipulate their votes by assigning them to different constituencies three or four times.
Serhiy Mishchenko, MP (individual), chairman of Parliament’s subcommittee for legal policy:
- On the one hand, the homeless need to be registered to know how many there are, where they are, how to help them, etc. On the other, the bill can be interpreted in such a way that it will be possible to influence the outcome of elections with the help of the homeless. I abstained from voting for this bill because it has a double meaning.
Ihor Popov, election law expert, president of the analytical center “Politics”:
- Homeless had previously voted too. Some changes in the legislation regarding the personal responsibility of heads of social services and the formation of these services were made to better explain how things should happen.
Formerly, the homeless were registered in the police. Now the social services will be engaged in them, including transfer of data on these people to the Register of Voters. That's it.