Early voting kicks off in Belarus

Any Belarusian citizen who for some reason or other cannot show up at a polling station on the main election day has the opportunity to cast their vote on August 4-8.

However, the incumbent president’s opponents and human rights activists urge people not to avail of the chance, saying that early polling may play into the hands of the election authorities that are allegedly involved in vote rigging.

The 2020 presidential election is officially scheduled for August, 9. On early voting days, the polling stations are open from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 16.00 to 19.00.

This year, the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) has introduced changes at some polling stations: now the booths will not be completely closed with curtains. Moreover, the citizens’ proposal to install cameras at polling stations at the expense of Belarusians does not meet the requirements of the election law, the CEC said on August, 2.

In late July, the election authorities reduced the number of observers at the stations, referring to the ‘difficult epidemiological situation in the country’. Later, CEC Chairperson Lidziya Yarmoshyna proposed observers to work at polling stations in several shifts.

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Following the early parliamentary elections in Belarus on 17 November 2019, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published its final report offering 32 recommendations to improve the conduct of elections and increase the transparency of and public confidence in the electoral process. In turn, Yarmoshyna said that the commission did not have enough time to make amendments to the electoral law in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Since 1996, the OSCE has not recognised a single election campaign in our country as free and democratic. OSCE observers have repeatedly noted that the legal framework in Belarus does not provide a supportive environment for democratic elections.

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