‘Any community could be excluded’ — Ukrainian parliament looks for ways to hold wartime elections

Ukraine’s Parliament prepares for 2024 presidential elections, ways to vote at the front
Ukraine’s Parliament prepares for 2024 presidential elections, ways to vote at the front

The Ukrainian Parliament is preparing for the upcoming 2024 presidential elections by establishing legislative framework and exploring options to conduct voting in frontline territories.

The parliamentary committee on the organization of state power and local self-government has drafted a bill titled "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Regarding the Organization and Conduct of Elections / Referendums or Voting by Ukrainian Citizens in Specific Territories." The draft law outlines possibilities for resolving voting issues in frontline areas.

Lawmakers propose the creation of a temporary special commission (TSC) tasked with determining whether elections should take place in a specific territory, according to the draft available to NV’s editorial team.

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The TSC should, no later than the second day after its formation, send requests to the Defense Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry, the National Police, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the National Bank, central executive authorities, and other institutions (including the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting) to provide information to the Central Election Commission (CEC). This information will help determine whether elections can be held in certain areas. The TSC is responsible for finalizing this assessment.

The current draft does not provide a clear definition of “specific territory.”

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To qualify an area as unsuitable for elections, the project suggests that it must meet at least one of several specific criteria. These include being occupied or negatively affected by armed Russian formations during hostilities, belonging to regions bordering Russia or Belarus where shelling by the enemy has occurred in the past six months, resulting in civilian casualties and/or injuries, or having a restricted access regime, including due to mine danger.

"The phrasing is such that virtually any community can be excluded from the elections," a source in the Verkhovna Rada said.

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This provision could assist the President's Office in creating a list of voting regions based on the level of support for the incumbent head of state.

The draft law also allows internally displaced persons and voters from areas where elections will not be held to cast their votes in other locations. They can change their voting location once without changing their electoral address or registration.

Alina Zahoruyko, member of the ruling Servant of the People parliamentary faction and First Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Local Governance and Development, clarified to NV that the document provided by the editorial team is a work in progress.

"This is a concept we proposed in the form of a comparative table of the bill,” Zahoruyko said.

“The project is still in its early stages, and changes will certainly be made. The mechanism for creating the TSC within parliament will also be subject to discussion because not everyone is pleased with it. However, the commission will not make any decisions; it only gathers information, analyzes it, and formulates proposals. Then, the Verkhovna Rada will make decisions based on those proposals.”

The article "Zelensky Will Do It Again: The Presidential Office and Verkhovna Rada Have Truly Begun Preparations for the Presidential Elections, and the War Won't Stop Them" hints at further preparations for the spring presidential elections.

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