International obligations include the right and opportunity of every citizen to vote in equal conditions with other citizens, restricted only by objective and reasonable criteria established by law.T
Advance voting: Article 53
International obligations include the right and opportunity of every citizen to vote in equal conditions with other citizens, restricted only by objective and reasonable criteria established by law.The framework established for voting, in common with all other aspects of the electoral legal and administrative framework, needs to contribute to the overall acceptance of the conduct and process of elections as legitimate and credible.
OSCE ODIHR Handbook 6th edition:
A state may facilitate voting through early voting.
OSCE ODIHR and Venice Commission Joint Opinion on Amendments to the Electoral Code of Belarus, 2010:
Although granting wide possibilities to attend early voting is in principle compatible with international standards on democratic elections, the process for early voting is problematic if it lacks oversight, regulation and clear procedures.
OSCE ODIHR Review of Electoral Legislation and Practice in OSCE Participating States, 2013:
Observers raised concerns with the lack of transparency in the conduct of early voting in Belarus
- The proposed amendment requires the PEC to take a substantive decision on each application for early voting. This makes access to early voting more restricted, and may be seen as making it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote. A justification would be helpful for the adoption of this approach, rather than an approach which focuses solely on ensuring sufficient oversight of early voting.
- Will the proposed grounds for acceptance or refusal of an early voting application in a PEC decision be defined to ensure that the amount of room for discretion is limited?
- The proposed amendment provides that early voting should close 12 days before polling day. Is there sufficient time for a PEC (formed 20 days before polling) to consider and determine all applications for early voting? Since the average PEC handles 1171 voters and the average early voting turnout in 2016 was 31% (ODIHR observation report 2016), the average number of decisions required by each PEC would be 363 if all previous early voters applied. If the PEC took say three minutes to read and decide on each application, it would be in session for eighteen hours on this item alone…
- What are the security arrangements for the sealed separate box in the intervening period between the close of early voting and the close of ordinary polling: in particular, will all members of the PEC share the responsibility of its oversight, both when the PEC office is open to voters and when it is closed?
- The answers to the questions relating to security arrangements may deal with two issues raised as problematic in the 2016 ODIHR report: the provision that only two members of the PEC are needed to oversee early voting, and the two hour break in the hours of early voting.
- What is the logic for the provision in the existing law and retained under the proposed amendment that advance voting should not exist in the second round (which now applies only to the presidential election, since the second round has been abolished for the House of Representatives election)?