Overall assessment of the election process

21 July 2019 early parliamentary elections in Ukraine were organized and held by the state in line with the national legislation and democratic standards. 

Despite the electoral system is not reformed, the campaign reflected key discussions between political parties and groups represented in society. Although some violations of electoral legislation were extremely serious, there is no reason to believe that they could affect the final distribution of votes by proportional electoral system at the moment we publish this report. Negative sides of the election process should become an extra reason for the newly-elected parliament to reform electoral, criminal and other legislation guaranteeing a punishment for electoral legislation. 

According to OPORA's observers, the voters received good conditions for free expression of will, and electoral legislation was predominantly realized in line with the principle of equal rights and opportunities. High-level competitiveness of the electoral process was ensured both in the national election district and in the absolute majority of single-mandate districts. According to OPORA, the voter turnout was 49.3% with 0.6% margin of error. The citizens were a little less active in these elections compared to 2014 early campaign. Taking into consideration that elections were held in summer, citizens demonstrated a fairly high interest in the process.

Public authorities have managed to avoid unjustified interference in the election process. Besides that, the misuse of administrative resources during the campaign was not systematic. 

None of political parties have had a monopolized influence on the functioning of the power vertical in the country. None of them also used administrative levers on a wide scale to gain preferences in the electoral process. However, Ukraine will need to implement well-considered legislative and practical steps towards further depoliticization of the civil service and activities of local self-government bodies. The need for such steps was reaffirmed by reported misuses with officials involved in individual districts and local communities. It's necessary to pay special attention to the reforming of legislation and by-laws aimed at prevention of misuse of budget resources for political and election purposes.

OPORA would like to mention that the National Police of Ukraine and other law enforcement agencies played a positive role in ensuring law and order, as well as the legitimacy of electoral process. Activities of law-enforcement officers aimed against violations during early parliamentary elections is an encouraging signal on the way to ensuring the certainty of punishment for electoral crimes. However, observers believe that law enforcement officers should continue to strengthen their own institutional capacity to detect, counteract and investigate electoral violations. Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in its turn, is obliged to adopt amendments to the legislation, strengthening procedural capacities of the investigating authorities, as well as the legal certainty and effectiveness of legislative prohibitions and restrictions in the electoral process. 

Candidates in single-member districts applied technologies that involve offering material incentives to the voters, what was the major challenge in parliamentary elections. Thus, OPORA's observers reported a significant number of incidents with signs of indirect voter bribery during the election campaign. The voters were usually offered a wide range of goods, services, and other material assets. As a result of no guarantees for politically impartial distribution and use of budget funds, state and local budget programs have also became instruments for giving the voters hidden material incentives.

The organization believes that voter bribery technologies could have a potential impact on voting results in the certain single-member districts and, therefore, each reported incident must receive a comprehensive legal evaluation. Current Ukrainian legislation does not always allow law-enforcement bodies to effectively counteract offering material incentives to voters, and needs to be reformed on the basis of draft law #8270, which has already been developed. 

 Unfortunately, OPORA's observers reported wide-scale violations of campaigning rules, committed by political parties and candidates. These cases questioned practical implementation of principles of transparency and accountability of expenses made from electoral funds and by candidates. As long as the influence of social networks on election campaigns has been growing, it's necessary to seriously discuss the accountability for expenses on such campaigning.

Another problem of the election campaign was active spreading of negative, non-balanced of knowingly false information against electoral rivals. Mass media were also involved in black PR campaigns. Democratic election standards include, among other things, the right of candidates and voters to participate in elections without fear of dealing with personal discredit or public prosecution. 

OPORA would like to mention that a series of incidents involving restriction of activities of official observers and journalists took place in the course of the campaign. For example, OPORA's observers faced illegal obstruction to their activities in Chernivtsi and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts before the Election Day. On the 21 July Election Day, Head of a DEC in Zhytomyr oblast applied force against official observer of the organization. The organization hopes for an objective investigation of incidents and demands fair punishment of everyone guilty in arrogant and unlawful actions against observers. The right for an unimpeded observation is one of guarantees for democratic elections, and must be respected by electoral subjects and the state.

Application of unfair technologies became one of the negative trends in the election process. Registration of namesake candidates and usage of brands or names of political parties in interests of candidates, who do not belong to these political parties, are two examples of such technologies. Such actions of competitors have signs of obstruction to electoral rights of citizens through a deceit, and are investigated by the National Police of Ukraine. According to OPORA, introduction of a clear legal responsibility for the bribing of a candidate would be effective in prevention of such technologies. 

According to OPORA, the Central Election Commission has provided a good election administration, including simplification of the procedure for temporary change of voting location without changing of an election address. However, upon the end of election process, the CEC and the expert environment should further analyze the uniform application of legislation when deciding on the registration or withdrawal of candidates. The research of such conflicts in early parliamentary elections will prevent similar problems in the next election campaigns. This analysis should also lead to the reform of legislation regulating registration of candidates, including a detalization of the procedure for checking the compliance with durational residency requirement.

OPORA regrets that the CEC did not provide members of DECs and PECs with a comprehensive explanation of the peculiarities of voting under a majoritarian component at precincts in prisons. Observers informed the organization that commission members at such precincts applied non-uniform practices while providing voters with the opportunity to vote.

Besides that, OPORA emphasized during the election process that CEC members made occasional statements with political accents, what should be avoided to gain trust in the independent election administration body. As long as the CEC was unable to launch a comprehensive internal reform during two consecutive intensive election campaigns, OPORA hopes this process will start immediately after the election. 

Despite there were no wide-scale failures in the work of DECs and PECs, there is still an urgent need to introduce a system for selection and training of election commission members in-between elections. Members of election commissions committed a large number of violations, and some of them can be characterized as gross violation of the law. The amount of such violations could have been decreased through prior training and testing of election commission members, but this will require legislative changes and budget expenditures in the future.

Assessment of compliance with procedures on 21 July 2019 Election Day

On the Election Day, Civil Network OPORA assessed the quality of election administration and adherence to legal procedures by electoral subjects at statistically-based sample of polling stations.

During the Election Day, observers of Civil Network OPORA haven't noticed systematic violations of electoral legislation or conflicts, which could have destabilized the election process or affected the election outcomes.
 However, frequent and repeated procedural violations, committed by precinct election commissions and caused by incompetent voters and/or their fraudulent intentions, have had a negative impact on the course of 21 July 2019 Election Day.

We are especially concerned about the issuing of ballots without verification of relevant documents or repeated attempts to vote for another person, which occurred quite often. On Election Day, such incidents were recorded in different regions of Ukraine at 10.1% of polling stations. This type of violations prevails in the statistics of violations, which is being constantly analyzed and summarized by Civil Network OPORA. The current situation is similar to the tendency of 2014 early parliamentary elections, when the amount of similar violations for the same period reached 12.9%, and to the last presidential election, when such violation was detected at 14.5% of polls in the first round.

Another most frequent violation on 21 July Election Day disclosure of secret ballot by voters showing marked ballots or incorrect placement of booths and arrangement of voting sites at PECs.  Such incidents were reported at 4.2% of polling stations. This indicator reached 5% in the second round of presidential election in Ukraine, but was smaller in the last parliamentary election (3.9% of polling stations).

At this elections, all participants of electoral process were more responsible to comply with requirements not to allow for photographing the ballots at the PSC premises. Such cases were sporadic and were recorded by observers only at 0.8% of polling stations. In the first voting round at the presidential election, the scale of such violations was much higher (4.8% of polling stations). During the second round, cases of photographing a ballot at the premises of polling stations (in a voting booth, or beyond) were recorded by OPORA observers at 3.3% of polling stations. 

No other critical or negative cases were recorded as related to interference with the operations of polling station commissions or posing obstacles to the exercise of citizens’ voting rights. In particular, OPORA observers reported about the lack of recurrent attempts to cast ballots in stacks into ballot boxes, or taking the ballots outside the polling station (statistical data for the recorded cases of such violations is 0.1%). However, observers also notified about the fact of casting ballots into a fixed box at the polling station no. 140750 in constituency no. 50 in the town of Myrnohrad (Donetsk region). Observers failed to note any planned and systemic cases that might imply the attempts of implementing the vote buying schemes.

On the stage of conducting preparatory meetings, OPORA observers failed to record any critical issues related to opening of a safe box with the ballots, with transfer of documents to PSC members, with installing and sealing ballot boxes. According to the observers, 81.6% of PSCs started their preparatory meetings as early as 45 minutes before the start of voting. This time, the start of PSC meeting complied with the legal requirements and made it possible for electoral subjects to have the capacity to fully observe the course and compliance with all due procedures. At 1.6% of polling stations, commissions started their preparatory meetings earlier than 7 a.m. 16.5% of PSCs started working between the 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. Therefore, at 18.4% of polling stations, the meetings started not within the time set by the law. It posed certain obstacles and inconveniences in conducting a high quality observation and control by electoral subjects over the launch of the PSC operation. The statistics of the polling stations where the procedure was not strictly observed has slightly improved as compared to the recent parliamentary elections (when the number reached 20.2%).

All polling stations that launched their operation on July, 21, were capable (with more than half of PSC members present) and sufficiently complete for efficient performance of their functions on election day. On average, almost 14 commission members provided for operations of each PSC at the parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

OPORA observers recorded the fact that at 5.7% of polling stations commission members did not take the minutes for the preparatory meeting, while this is their direct duty under the law. This number of procedural breach is much higher than at the second round of presidential election. Then, only 2.2% of polling stations showed the recorded violations related to keeping the minutes of the preparatory meeting. At the 2014 early parliamentary elections, the minutes of the morning preparatory meeting was not kept at 4.6% of PSCs.

The Law of Ukraine “On Elections of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine” stipulates the time for voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The organizations’ observers identified cases of the PSC’s incompliance with the start time. 19.1% of polling stations started the voting before 8 a.m. 80.6% of polling stations opened between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Instead, 0.3% of polling stations provided voters with the opportunity to vote only after 08:30 a.m. The most problematic was the situation in a one-mandate constituency of Chernihiv region where five polling stations (no.740376, no.740375,  no.740370, no.40370 and no.740389) started their operations with delay, due to mass replacements in the managerial staff of PSCs that the district commission made shortly before. Upon the whole, the situation with opening of polling stations at these elections was not critical.

At 99.3% of polling stations nationwide, observers failed to identify any obstacles to the monitoring process of commissions preparing for the opening of polling stations. At 0.7% of PSCs, there were cases with restricting observer rights when conducting monitoring for preparatory procedures at polling stations. At the recent parliamentary and presidential elections, the statistics was similar.

 Upon the whole, at 2% of polling stations, observers stated that they did not have a full-fledged possibility to observe the voting process. At the second round of voting for the President of Ukraine, similar issues were identified at 1.5% of polling stations.

OPORA observers stated that 99.2% of polling stations closed at 8 p.m., as stipulated by election law on election of people’s deputies of Ukraine. At the second voting round at the Presidential election, the number was similar. 

Civil Network OPORA analyzed the course of the vote count after the completion of voting at the early parliamentary election on July, 21, 2019, and continues to monitor the establishment of voting results. Upon the whole, the count stage ran with no systemic violations but in a rather conflicting environment, with accompanying typical procedural abuse. OPORA observers reported that 3% of polling station commissions did not keep to the procedures set by the law, freely interpreting certain legal provisions. Besides, observers did not always had a chance to control the course of the vote count on all stages, such as to see marks in the ballots. At this election, they did not have such opportunity at 4.9% PSCs. In the first round of the regular presidential elections, the problem was lower in scale (1% of polling stations only).  

Almost all polling station commissions completed the process of voting by 8 p.m. Immediately after, they shifted to conducting evening meetings. However, at 1.9% of PSCs, the count process (and consideration of complaints) was delayed. At the recent presidential elections, the number of polling stations with the recorded delays of the kind was somewhat smaller (1.4% of commissions). OPORA observers informed that complaints coming from electoral subjects were received by 3.8% of polling station commissions. Their consideration ran in compliance with the set procedures, before the start of the evening meeting.

Cases of having unauthorized persons being present at the premises of voting sites during the vote count were identified by observers at 0.8% of polling stations, nationwide. The cases did not have any grave consequences. Similarly, there were no recurrent incidents that manifested themselves in posing obstacles on the part of electoral subjects or other persons for the process of vote count (it was recorded only at 0.3% of polling stations).

Activity of Voters on Election Day, according to the data by Civil Network OPORA

During the observation over the course of voting on July, 21, 2019, Civil Network OPORA conducted a parallel tabulation of voters turnout on the basis of the number of polling stations representative for Ukraine. The data was recorded as of 12:00, 16:00, and 20:00 for the entire Ukraine, and for the four macro regions. 

Upon the whole, nationwide, according to OPORA, the turnout at the early parliamentary elections on July, 21, 2019, was 49.3% (error ± 0.6%). According to official data of the CEC, activity of voters on the national scale was 49.84%. At the recent parliamentary elections, activity of voters was only slightly higher. 

Data of Parallel Vote Tabulation by OPORA on the Turnout on Election Day on July, 21, 2019:


 Extraordinary parliamentary election 2019 Margin of Error   Extraordinary parliamentary election 2014 Margin of Error 


























Incidents and Violations on Election Day on July, 21, 2019

During the monitoring over the compliance with electoral law on election day, during the vote count, and acceptance of electoral documentations at the DECs from PSCs on July, 21, 2019, observers of the Civil Network OPORA recorded 759 cases at the PSCs and 123 cases of violations at the DECs (as of 9:00 a.m.). In total, the electoral process was democratic, while the significant violations recorded by OPORA observers were sporadic and could not impact the voting outcome at these polling stations/constituencies. At the same time, several cases with violating the procedure of the vote count and preventing the expression of will and taking record of violations give justified grounds to observers not to trust the count results.

The biggest number of violations include the facts related to information and logistics support – 274 (the highest number was found in central regions of Ukraine – 182). The most typical were the following: lack of the necessary number of ballot boxes and booths for secret ballot, and the lack of information posters. Moreover, there were numerous cases of incompliance with the requirements to the minimum space for the voting site, location of polling stations above the ground floor, in some cases, observers also recorded the impossibility to use the booths for a person on a wheelchair. In one case, a wheelchair user voted at the window-sill in the polling station, in another case, a voter on the wheelchair was not able to fit within the too narrow doorway to the building, and had to vote outside.

It was traditional for elections in Ukraine to have the illegitimate voting, such as the voting without due documents, or voting on the grounds of other documents than required under the law (such as, on the grounds of an international passport (PS no.461150 DEC 125, Lviv region), a pension ID (PS no. 730195 DEC 202, Chernivtsi region), a passport’s photocopy (at the polling station no. 710742 in the village of Holovkivka, Chyhyryn district, Cherkasy region), voting instead of another person that included features of crime under article 158-1 of the CC of Ukraine – 130 cases (69 violations in Western regions of Ukraine, 49 – in central regions, others – in the East and in the South).

In 59 cases, it was recorded violations for the order of vote count (a typical violation was the violation of the order of the count, when PSC members were conducting the count in groups, and poured out the ballots at the same time from all boxes and put them into piles). In 7 cases, despite the completion of the count procedure, the commission rejected the immediate issue of copies of protocols to observers. In 11 cases, there were recorded signs of falsifications or manipulations with electoral documents (a large part of them occurred in central regions of Ukraine). Another typical violation was the mention in the PSC protocol of the date for the next day of July, 22, 2019, at PS no.461520 of constituency no.125 (Lviv region) signatures on the protocols of vote count were introduced still during the voting.

In 3 cases, there was a direct counteraction to taking record of violations coming from the commissions (such as at PS 181432,  PS 181432 (Zhytomyr region) – ban for video-recording; at  PS 120458 (Dnipropetrovsk region) – a secretary of the polling station commission and the village head prevented observation). Observers faced obstacles and restrictions in their observation in 13 cases, and it also was recorded 4 cases when commissions posed threats to observer’s safety. In particular, an observer was threatened in aggressive manner to be put off from the polling station (PS 511442 DEC 135 (Odesa region), physical obstacles to recording the facts of entering into protocols the untruthful data (PS 181432 DEC 62 (Zhytomyr region), PS 120458 DEC 34 (Dnipropetrovsk region).

Unauthorized persons present at the polling stations  were recorded in 23 cases (in most cases, it was about the representatives of the National Police, The State Emergency Service of Ukraine, heads of village councils, deputies of local councils). The identified person was present at the polling station commission as a journalist but  under an invalid ID (PSC 320278 constituency 94, Kyiv region); also on a special polling station 531211 constituency 144 (Poltava region) in colony 64, when the vote count was attended by the head of the penitentiary institution who  checked  the ballots and sent data to somebody upon announcing the results for certain candidates. It may signify the controlled nature of voting. At the PS 320270, 8 persons tried to be present in the voting place.

Having a voter publicly show the ballot  was recorded in 11 cases; in 15 cases, voters were taking photos of the ballots, and 14 cases of campaigning at the polling station were recorded.

In 6 cases, voters were illegitimately banned from voting (such as in 3 cases, the grounds for rejection was the fact that the voter lacked an extract on the place of the voter’s registration, in addition to an ID as he did not have it along); taking the ballot outside the polling station was recorded in 5 cases.

In addition, it was recorded 188 other violations, which vast majority were about breaching on informational and  inventory and logistics support, and procedural violations made by election commission. For example, they did not cast the control letters (PS 321389 constituency 91, Kyiv region), or announced breaks during the count (PS 480770 constituency 127 (Mykolaiv region).

Moreover, in 14 cases, it was recorded incidents related to campaigning at the polling station.  The most widespread types were the following: 1) voters were coming to the station wearing the clothes branded with symbols of certain political forces; 2) printed campaigning materials were placed outside,  near the PSC; 3) a candidate communicated with voters at the polling station (PS 610086 constituency 167); 4) campaigning by a commission member to vote against all candidates, in front of the voting place (PS 650613 constituency 184 (Kherson region).

It was recorded the fact of taking ballots outside - 5 cases (in the East - 4, Center - 1). The reason for taking the ballots outside the polling station was usually in technical barriers for voting (a voter with a disability was not able to enter the PS; a power cut).

Since 8 p.m., on July, 21, OPORA observers started their observation over the course of vote count. It was identified several problematic district election commissions: DEC 199 (Cherkasy region) – mass rewriting of protocols, commission members evading the work in DEC 94 (Kyiv region), DEC - 116 decisions adopted under  lack of quorum,  DEC 181 (Kharkiv region) – unidentified persons near the DEC facility (over 10 persons), DEC 59  (Donetsk region) – termination to accept the documents before 12.00, resulting into waiting lines of commission members.


to the President of Ukraine

  • With the powers of the Guarantor for the rights and freedoms of citizens of Ukraine, to act as an initiator of interinstitutional dialogue to provide for voting rights of citizens, including the internally displaced persons, labour migrants, persons with disabilities, and other categories of voters.

to Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

  • To consider and adopt the draft law no. 8270 on providing the inescapable nature of punishment for electoral fraud in order to enhance the capacity to prevent and investigate electoral fraud.
  • To provide for the full-fledged exercise of voting rights to internally displaced persons and other mobile persons inside the country under the provisions of the Law of Ukraine no. 6240.

to Central Election Commission

  • To launch the internal institutional  reform, including the enhancement of transparency of activities, to provide for full-fledged communication with the public and the media, to expand the list of open electoral data.