Photo: Vasily Fedosenko/ Reuters
484 candidates are running for seats at the lower chamber of Belarus’ parliament. The polling stations have closed at 20:00. Vote counting is in progress.
September 11 is the last and primary day of the election to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly. The voting will be held in one round. If more than half of the voters (at least 50% + 1 person) cast ballot, the election is recognised valid.
Half of the required vote was received after the fourth day of early voting.
A candidate who will get the majority of votes at their electoral precinct will become a member of parliament.
The voting is taking place at 110 election districts which are divided into 6,018 polling stations which are to be open till 20:00. The stations in military units, rest homes, hospitals and health centers may be closed earlier by their election commissions if all people on voters list cast their ballots.
The election is being monitored by 827 international observers from the CIS, OSCE ODIHR, Council of Europe PA, OSCE PA, the diplomatic corps and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In Belarus, several observers detained and removed from polling stations; human rights activists reported ballot rigging and merry-go-round voting; a policeman attacked the observer; a pro-regime observer attacked and insulted opposition politician Anatol Lyabedzka; the police attempted to break into the activists’ flat… However, state-run news agency BelTA reported no incidents and said the election was ‘cultural’ and ‘festive’:
22:45 Electoral Evening on Belsat TV, part 1:
20:20 Election observer Pyotr Markelau has been detained after being removed from polling station Nr 347 (Sukharava precinct) in Minsk, Deputy Chairman of the movement ‘For Freedom’ Ales Lahvinets said on Facebook.
“Pyotr insisted that some suspicious persons [who came to cast vote] proved they had a right to vote at that polling station. By now, the members of the election committee have unanimously voted in favor of removing all the observers and journalists from the polling station,” Lahvinets said.
The chairman of polling station Nr 347 is well-known businessman Pavel Tapuzidzis.
20:10 Observer Ryhor Astapenia, the chief editor of the online magazine Idea.by, has been removed from polling station Nr 351 (Frunzenski precinct). The chairman of the election ommission did not like his taking photos and making videos. A police officer forced Astapenia to leave the polling station.
It is unknown what the election commissions are trying to hide from the observers and their cameras.
16:45 Activists from Brest say that policemen and unknown persons have been keeping watch over them for two days.
16:20 According to independent observers, the discrepancy between the actual turnout and the turnout reported by election commissions is 5,547 ballots,” parliamentary candidate Yury Hubarevich told Belsat TV.
16:05 There were not many people at the polling stations in Brest, our journalists report. It is the pensioners who have come to cast their votes.
As during all previous elections, tuck shops – most polling stations are headquartered at schools – sell alcoholic beverages, which is a violation of the Belarusian legislation, but on the election day the authorities turn a blind eye to it. are on sale. After voting, many citizens come for cheap vodka and domestic beer. At polling stations one can see ‘installations’ made of vegetables, fruits, sausages and even salo.
14:20 Election observers Syarhei Housha and Mikalai Charnavus have reported ballot rigging at a polling station in the Belarusian town of Baranavichy. According to them, the data on the number of earlyvoted early voters, was ‘warmed up’ by nearly three times.
On the first day of early voting 30 people cast their ballots, on the second – 44, on the third – 67, on the fourth – 72, and in total, 213 people voted, Housha, an observer from the Belarusian helsinki Committee, states.
“However, according to the precinct election commission, 561 people voted within four days, that is 2.6 times as many,” says Housha.
The observer reported the case to the Investigation Committee.
14:05 The parliamentary elections in Belarus are recognized valid. According to the CEC, the voter turnout stood at 52.49% as of 14.00. Voter turnout was 50.16% of the registered voters in Brest region, 58.17% in Vitsebsk region, 59.01% in Homiel oblast, and 53.66% in Hrodna Oblast. A total of 51.54% votes were cast in Minsk region. Turnout reached 57.35% in Mahiliou Oblast and 41.93% in the Belarusian capital.
At 16:00 (Minsk time) Belsat will start live broadcasting from polling stations. At 21:00 Belsat TV will give an overview of the first results of the election in our studio. Experts, politicians, correspondents from different parts of the country together with the channel’s anchors Volha Zharnasek and Valer Ruselik will be discussing the election campaign in 2016.
In Belarus, 20-30% of voters usually go to the polls during the period of early voting. At the 2010 presidential elections, over 23.1% cast their votes in advance.
However, according to independent observers and human rights watchdogs, early voting makes it possible to rig elections in Belarus. According to them, every time Belarusian military, students and civil servants are forced to vote early.
Human rights activists urge to use a mobile app that helps to report violations. The campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” has also opened a hotline for reporting violations during the parliamentary elections.