The Committee for Open Democracy (COD) observed April 21, 2019, presidential runoff election in Ukraine. Ukrainians gave an election mandate to political newcomer Volodymyr Zelensky over the incumbent Petro Poroshenko, and Zelensky will become the country’s sixth president. This is the 24th election observed by COD since its founding in 2010. Once again, COD is among the largest observer missions in Ukraine with 49 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, Swedes, Americans, Moldovans and British citizens.
COD observed the election in 4 locations including Kharkiv, Ottawa, and Toronto, and with the bulk of observers in Odesa. More than 150 polling stations were monitored, including most of the largest polling stations in Odesa during the vote count.
Based on our observations, this latest Ukrainian election continues to meet international standards. The Ukrainian authorities did a professional job of administering the election and credit goes to the election commissions, candidates and law enforcement.
Overall, the election commissioners did a professional job and took their responsibility seriously. The commissions were balanced in terms of candidate representation and gender. Many new commissioners were present during this election. Overseas voting locations included disability access, but domestically few sites were accessible. International, domestic, and candidate observers were abundant. This election contrasts starkly with previous elections in Ukraine, such as in 1999, 2004 and 2010 which were marred by fraud and vote-buying.
For example, incidents of vote-buying did appear in the pre-election environment, but they were less than in previous years. Incidents of pressure on state employees, factory workers, etc were not systematic and were isolated in most cases.
In summary, Ukraine continues on its European path by holding elections that meet international standards. COD will submit recommendations to the Central Election Commission based upon its findings.