This summer Satuit’s CFO, Steven Nothern, traveled to Ukraine as part of the OSCE mission to observe Ukraine’s July 21 Parliamentary election. Ukraine’s new President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first act following his sweeping landslide election in May was to call for early Parliamentary elections. The United States, one of the 56 nations that form the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) sent 109 representatives to observe the vote; in total the OSCE deployed 810 observers.
“After two very full days of briefings in Kiev on their election laws and environment, I was deployed as a short term observer (STO) to the Khmelnitsky oblast, a region about 4 hours by train South West of the capital. STOs deploy in teams of two, supplemented by a driver and translator, and are assigned an area of responsibility (AoR). Our AoR was almost evenly split between urban and rural. We arrived there two days in advance of election day to assess the election environment, identify where the polling stations were located and check on their state of preparation. On election day polls opened at 8:00 a.m. and closed at 8:00 p.m. Our task was to observe a polling station as it opened, 12-15 polling stations during the day, (at least 1/2 hr. at each), observe a polling station close then stay there as they count the ballots, then follow the results to the regional tabulation center, where we observe the tabulation till we are relieved by a “B” team. At each polling station and then at the tabulation center, we completed a standardized electronic form which we uploaded to the OSCE ops center in Kiev so they could have a real time sense, collected from all the teams, of how polling, counting and tabulation is going across the country.
We ended up observing at 14 polling stations. The vote count at our closing polling station took about 5 hours so we didn’t make it to the tabulation center till well past 1:00 a.m. the next morning. Fortunately, our “B” team was there to relieve us! We caught a few hours of sleep and returned mid-morning. Tabulation was not complete till early that evening.”
The ultimate task of an observation mission is to collect a statistically significant sample in order to offer an assessment of whether an election was held in accordance with international obligations, standards for democratic elections as well as with national legislation. Additionally, an important task for missions is to submit recommendations on how to make improvements before future elections. Here is a link to an OSCE press release following the mission: https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/426263
The Ukraine Parliamentary election result? President Zelenskyy’s new party achieved an absolute parliamentary majority. A first for Ukraine. Now we’ll see if he can make hoped for progress on the economic and security fronts.