The Committee for Open Democracy (COD) officially observed the July 21, 2019, parliamentary election in Ukraine. Ukrainians gave an election mandate for change to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, Servant of the People. These were the 9th parliamentary elections in Ukraine’s independent history. COD observed the election in six locations including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Uzhgorod, Vilnius, Lithuania, and Toronto, Canada. More than 100 polling stations were monitored.
The election was administered professionally, with the exception of a few districts and polling stations. The new Central Election Commission is performing well despite having to manage three national elections already this year. Ukraine has matured in its democratic development, particularly in election administration. Incidents of fraud were largely limited to a few polling stations and districts and were not widespread. Despite a record low turnout of just under 50%, the results tracked with public opinion surveys. However, the summer election date was a clear factor in the lower voter turnout. Votes abroad were few (just over 30,000) and Ukraine needs to liberalize the voting procedure for the millions of Ukrainians abroad. The process of changing the place of voting is working effectively under the new law, in contrast to previous elections. Votes from Ukrainians abroad were few. The attitude of commissioners towards international observers was open and friendly, in contrast to past elections such as 2010 and 2012. Vote-buying before the election took place in some areas, but again, was largely limited. In summary, Ukraine has passed another milestone towards free and fair elections that represent the will of the voters.
This is the 26th election observed by COD since its founding in 2010. Once again, COD is among the largest ten observer missions in Ukraine with 29 official observers accredited by the Central Election Commission. In the past, COD has observed elections in Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. Prior to the Russian occupation of Crimea, COD also was the first international organization to observe the Kuraltai elections for the Crimean Tatar Medzhlis. COD is a US nonprofit organization that includes observers from multiple countries. Currently, the delegation of observers consists of Canadians, Lithuanians, Americans, and British citizens.