Lists of PEC members are now classified. It is illegal

While several people who call themselves members of election commissions recorded a video saying that “they are not afraid,” the Central Election Commission classified the lists of precinct commissions “for security purposes.”

Sample photo. A polling station in Vitebsk during the presidential election. August 5, 2020. The faces of the members of the commissions are hidden for security purposes. Photo: Belsat

Article 34 of the Electoral Code of Belarus requires the publication of the names of all members of election commissions. However, the authorities decided not to do it this time. For example, in Mahiliou, they only published the addresses of the “referendum” commissions. Still, they did not give the names of the commission members or even their telephone numbers (which is also required by law).

Lyubou Kavalchuk, a Belsat reader, earlier highlighted a violation of another Electoral Code article. An illegally “overpopulated” polling station was created in the “Mayak Minska” district. She asked how to find out the names of her polling station commission members and told Belsat about the results.

Earlier, the Piershamayski district commission could not tell Lyubou Kavalchuk where to find PEC members’ “published in the press” lists. She contacted the CEC hotline.

At first, the CEC advised her to contact the precinct commission by phone. She objected: What if a cleaner takes the picture and introduces herself as a commission member? The CEC replied: then come in person. But Kavalchuk asked again: how would one know, in that case, if the person who introduced himself as a commission member was one?

The hotline confirmed that Article 34 of the Electoral Code had not been repealed. They asked to wait in line.

After three minutes, they answered:

“For the safety of election commission members, it was decided not to publish their data.”

The CEC said that previously, members of commissions “received threats” (according to the “Honest People” initiative, at least the letters known to them did not contain threats, but appeals to comply with the law and fairly count the votes).

When asked how such a decision was made, the CEC replied: “collegially.” What bodies made the “collegial” decision, they did not say. They only said that the decision was made by “state bodies.”

The Electoral Code was adopted by the House of Representatives, approved by the Council of the Republic, and signed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Changes to the Code have to be made by appropriate laws. Still, no law that would change Article 34 was reported, and “collegially,” the CEC has only the right to give explanations of laws and codes or ask lawmakers to change rules, but not actually to change them.

Article 13 of the Electoral Code says that the preparation of referendums and elections must be open and transparent and obliges local authorities and relevant commissions to inform citizens about their work, including the formation of electoral districts. Violations of election laws can be punished with a fine of up to 15 basic units (480 rubles at the time of publication) under Article 10.9 of the Code of Administrative Infringements. Forgery of documents during the preparation of elections and referendums is punishable under Article 192 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus by a fine, deprivation of the right to hold certain positions, correctional labor for up to 2 years, or restriction or deprivation of liberty for up to 5 years.