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Home » Elections » Presidential elections » Presidential Elections - 11.04.2018 » Report of Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan - 2018



Unofficial translation


REPORT OF CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION
OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN

Presidential Elections - 2018

www.msk.gov.az
www.cec.gov.az
www.infocenter.gov.az



All the activities regarding the Presidential Elections in the Republic of Azerbaijan held on April 11, 2018 were implemented subsequently, systematically and thoroughly in conformity with the Calendar Plan compiled and approved by the Central Election Commission (CEC) through abiding by the requirements of the Election Code. The important stages to conduct the elections freely, fairly and transparently that consist of the update of voters’ lists, development of legal framework, awareness-raising of all election stakeholders including voters, nomination and registration of presidential candidates, ensuring equal opportunities for pre-election campaign and free access for the activity of media representatives and the implementation of other duties implied in the Election Code were fulfilled accurately.

Voter lists are one of the most important documents to hold free and fair elections. Pursuant to the Election Code, the update of single voter list on the country started since the beginnings of January 2018. In the first stage, members of the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) updated the voters’ lists of their precincts. Afterwards, this information was transmitted to the Constituency Election Commissions (Con.ECs) and in their turn, they checked the voter lists received from the PECs and reconciled with the statistic data provided by relevant bodies (local Registration and ID card Department, Department for State Registration of Citizenship Status Acts and other bodies dealing with citizens’ registration). In the next stage, CEC collected the voters’ database, checked possible repetitions and inaccurateness of names via special software for quantitative and qualitative analysis and then submitted the correct version of voter lists to the Con.ECs. A copy of the last version of the voter lists updated during that period was maintained at Con.ECs and another copy at CEC, as well as, the updated last version was posted on the CEC website. This broad and large-scale process involving more than thirty thousand members of lower election commissions was implemented in close and comprehensive cooperation with relevant bodies. The interest and active engagement of Azerbaijan voters in the update of voter lists, broadcasting of video and audio clips on checking voters’ entries in TV and radio channels, prepared by CEC throughout the update process, as well as, the hotline # 115 of the Central Election Commission and online service of the website had further increased the efficiency of the activities implemented. CEC replied and put all necessary steps regarding all the appeals entered the hotline # 115 and electronic hotlines on election issues including voter lists. The received appeals mainly concerned the checking of voters’ entries in the voter lists, making corrections if necessary, legal issues and other similar affairs. Like previous years, the voter lists of the current year was compiled accurately and efficiently as a result of large-scale and broad process implemented in the cooperation between election commissions and relevant bodies.

Even though the dispersal of the internally displaced people settled within the country in all regions made the organization of their voting difficult, the voting rights of those citizens were also ensured as a result of great efforts and intense work.

Many purposeful activities were undertaken to provide more effective opportunities for the voters’ number on some election constituencies and polling stations to conform to the representation norm, as well as, for voters and other election stakeholders to exercise the voting rights. 11 new polling stations on 8 election constituencies were established upon abiding by the requirements of the Election Code stipulating the necessity of providing voters with effective opportunities, feasibility of local and other conditions, prevention of offending the boundaries of election constituencies and conformity of voters’ number with the norms defined by the legislation. Meanwhile, the information on every constituency and dislocation of the polling stations, voters’ number on polling stations, structure of Con.ECs and PECs were posted on the CEC website.

Awareness-raising of different election stakeholders has always been of great importance to CEC through the election process. The Commission prepared educational programs in 18 fields and implemented large-scale projects on a regular basis for different participants of the election process.

The first activity regarding the Presidential Elections was held to raise awareness of Con.EC and PEC members and to this end, a broad project in two stages was carried out pursuant to the Order of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On the approval of National Activity Program to increase the efficiency of protecting human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, dated December 27, 2011. In the first stage, a seminar was held for the Con.EC chairpersons on 15 February, 2018 in Baku. During the seminar the incumbents of many state bodies – Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Milli Majlis, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor’s General, Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, as well as, CEC members and Secretariat officials made presentations on different affairs for the Con.EC chairpersons. The training program included the subjects on duties of local executive authorities in the process of preparing and conducting presidential elections and their bilateral activity with election commissions, constitutional basis and legal mechanisms of implementing the right to participate in presidential elections, election right as one of human and civil rights, the roles of judicial, attorney offices and the institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and courts in the presidential elections, basic duties of Con.ECs and PECs after the voting ends, recent functional opportunities and rules of using the State Automated Information System, the arrangement of office works at Con.ECs and PECs. Meanwhile, elections conducted in previous years and the " lessons learnt” were reviewed at the seminar. The participants addressed the speakers with the questions interesting to them and acquired necessary information.

In the second stage of the project, professional courses on election right were held for the Con.EC secretaries and members, PEC chairpersons in regions on 19-21 February, 2018. The number of the participants during the three-day courses changed between 40-60, thereby allowing the representatives of lower election commissions to participate more actively and get responses to the questions interesting to them. CEC representatives, Con.EC chairpersons, the incumbent officials of local executive authorities in regions, courts, prosecutor’s offices and police departments made presentations at the courses aiming at the improvement of professional skills and knowledge of lower election commissions in election field. In general, professional courses encompassed more than 6000 election officials and during the courses lower election commission members acquired detailed information on the election process. The courses attended by the representatives of international (foreign) organizations was broadcasted and publicized by mass media.

Within the education program of the Central Election Commission, three-day seminars on the election dispute resolution were conducted from 27 February to 1 March, 2018. CEC members, authorized representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the European Court of Human Rights, members of the CEC Expert Group and representatives of the Commission Secretariat attended the event aiming at awareness-raising of the Expert Group members functioning under Con.ECs to investigate the complaints filed against the actions (inactions) and decisions violating citizens’ election rights. The main goal of seminars was to increase the knowledge of members of the Con.EC Expert Groups with regard to the election dispute resolution, to improve their practical skills and activity to ensure citizens’ election rights more effectively.

One of the educational activities regarding the Presidential elections was arranged with the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice. During the seminar-conference on the election organization in the indoor institutions at the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice on 2 March, 2018, the CEC representatives provided the officials of the foregoing body with the detailed information, commented on the voting day procedures thoroughly and responded to the questions interesting to them.

CEC has always focused on for further improvement of professionalism level of the members of lower election commissions. To this end, broad trainings have been held by means of visual aids for lower election commissions since 2002. Since 2008 after the improvements of the project, 2 local trainers trained for each election constituency jointly with the Venice Commission of the European Council have played a significant role in awareness-raising of Con.EC and PEC members for several years. During the Presidential elections of 2018 a training project in two stages was implemented to raise awareness of lower election commissions. In the first stage, "Training of Trainers” was held by the CEC Training Group in Baku on 5, 6, 7 and 9 March, 2018. During the trainings 250 local trainers from 125 election constituencies were informed thoroughly on the E-day procedures including the voting process, exceptional cases, vote counting and tabulation in the Presidential elections, therewith, the cases might to be encountered on the voting day were clarified at these practical workshops.

In the second stage of the project involving the Con.EC and PEC members, the CEC Training Group prepared special slides with all the necessary information for the training of lower election commission members and presented them to local training groups. The second stage of the trainings of lower election commissions held by CEC and Con.ECs started from 12 March, 2018, they were conducted by using visual aids for the small groups of 35-40 persons according to the schedule of the CEC Training Group and lasted for nearly 10 days as in conformity with the number of election precincts on the constituencies. The members of lower election commissions were informed on the election process at the trainings. Generally, these trainings encompassed more than 32000 commission members.

On 7 March, 2018 the officials of the CEC Secretariat held training for the officials of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. During the training the issues concerning the activities and projects undertaken by CEC for the conduct of the Presidential elections, as well as, the voting arrangement, domestic and international observers, their rights and duties, the participation of mass media representatives in elections and other subjects were thoroughly commented on and the questions were replied to at the discussion phase.

The election legislation unanimously implies the participation of the citizens who reside outside the country or who are on long-term trips to a foreign country in the Presidential elections. From that point of view, for the compilation of the voter list and to ensure the participation of the Azerbaijan citizens residing outside the republic in the voting, a large-scale project was carried out with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 41 polling stations were established in diplomatic consulates of the country to foreign states to facilitate the citizens residing abroad to participate in the voting. On 13 March, 2018 a seminar was held together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the organization of the elections outside the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the regulation of implementing rights of Azerbaijan citizens residing abroad to participate in elections, establishment of election precincts and other issues. The affairs on the voting arrangement in the election precincts established in relevant diplomatic representations and consulates to ensure the participation in the Presidential elections and voting rights of the citizens who reside outside the country or who are on long-term trips were discussed at the event. During the training broadcasted by mass media, the participants were explained visually on the arrangement of election precincts, roles and duties of PEC members on the voting day, openness and transparency in elections, E-day procedures and exceptional cases, vote counting and determination of results, sending the documents to Con.ECs and other issues, thereby replying to the questions interesting to them.

One of the educational activities in the Presidential elections was dedicated to mass media. On 19 March, 2018 a broad seminar on the roles and duties of mass media in the Presidential elections was held with the joint organization of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Central Election Commission, National TV and Radio Council and Press Council. Chairman of the Central Election Commission, incumbents of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, National TV and Radio Council and Press Council, as well as, CEC members made introductory speeches and presentations at the event considered for the heads and other representatives of the mass media outlets functioning in the country. The seminar attended by the heads of the media outlets functioning in the country was broadcasted by mass media and during the event the participants heard the presentation on free conduct and equality of pre-election campaign actors in the Presidential Elections of the Republic of Azerbaijan, roles and duties of mass media in the process, discussions were held and the questions of the participants were replied to.

Another educational activity on elections was held with the co-organization of CEC with the Ministry of Health at the CEC premises on 23 March, 2018. CEC members, officials of the Ministry of Health and CEC Secretariat and PEC chairpersons took part at the seminar dedicated to the organization of the Presidential elections in the areas temporarily settled by the voters with health problems. The participants heard presentations about defining the scope of persons in temporary settlements due to health problems and establishment of election precincts, the voting arrangement in those polling stations, results tabulation and publication, duties of PECs on the voting day, voting procedures and other issues, therewith, the participants’ questions were replied to at the event.

Within the educational program of election stakeholders, CEC conducted seminar-conference with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 26 March in Ganja, on 28 March in Shirvan, on 30 March in Shaki and on 2 April in Baku to increase the information of the police on their role in the election process. The responsible officials of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan, CEC members and officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs made reports at the events on the improvement of the service of police in the Presidential elections. During the seminar the participants were presented "Guide for the participation of police officials in Presidential Elections”.

On 26-28 March, 2018 practical seminars were held for the Con.EC operators at CEC with the aim of expanding required knowledge and skills of the operators in the accurate use of the State Automated Information System – "Elections” Information network and its relevant software which carry special importance in ensuring transparency of the E-day processes. The computer operators of Con.ECs were provided with practical information on the improved network version of the "Elections” Information System to transmit the E-day information to CEC, therewith they were studied visually the rules of usage and the questions interesting to them were clarified at the seminars.

Another field of the educational program implemented by CEC encompassed first time voters. From the day election campaign started till the short period up to the voting day, many projects had been carried out in the cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan to encourage the young to take more active part in the election process. During the large-scale activities held with the support of CEC that covered Baku and other regions of the country, the participants were provided with detailed information on the election right, preparations to the Presidential elections, voting day procedures and other issues and the questions of great interest to the young were addressed. Let’s note that more than 102000 young people got voting right for the first time in the Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, on E-day – April 11 special congratulation cards on behalf of CEC were prepared upon the initiative of CEC to encourage 143 young voters aged 18 who have got the right to vote since that day and the cards were being presented to those young voters when they came to vote.

After the announcement of the Presidential elections, CEC approved Calendar Plan to implement the basic activities and steps implied in the legislation subsequently and effectively, to render methodical assistance to election stakeholders and to simplify their activity in the election process. The Calendar Plan was published and distributed to lower election commissions, also posted on the CEC official website in Azerbaijani and English languages to be available to all the election stakeholders.

"Election Day Guide” was published within the frame of awareness-raising of the election stakeholders to train the PEC members on the voting day procedures. The booklet contained detailed information on the roles and duties of the PEC members on the voting day, opening of polling stations, the activities in the voting hours, closing of polling stations, vote counting and filling out protocols on the voting results. The guidebook compiled in conformity with the provisions implied in the Election Code, instructions, rules and comments adopted by CEC was also posted on the website and distributed to the relevant addresses accordingly.

"Guide for Observers” was also published for the awareness-raising of observers in the Presidential elections. The guide concluded the principles of observation, clarified the rights and duties of observers and included the issues to be abided by and prohibited for observers by law. The booklet compiled basing on the Election Code and normative documents was published in Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages, posted on the website and distributed to relevant bodies to deliver to international observers and also to Con.ECs, political parties and other organizations participating in the observation process to deliver to local observers.

The Central Election Commission also compiled the "Guide for participation of the police in Presidential Elections”. The guide prepared jointly with the Ministry of Internal Affairs contained the detailed information on the roles and duties, also activities to be undertaken by the police during the fulfillment of their duties in the pre-election campaign period and voting day, as well as in the process of transferring and protecting the official election documents. The booklet was distributed to the relevant bodies and lower election commissions to deliver to the police officials.

"Guide for the participation of mass media in the Presidential Elections” clearly comments on the rights and duties of mass media in the election process and the period of pre-election campaign, thereby clarifying the issues prohibited for them by law. The foregoing booklet was also distributed to mass media outlets, meanwhile, the interested election stakeholders could get it by the CEC independent Media Centre.

The Central Election Commission has always focused on voter education and many projects had been carried out in this field during the Presidential elections. CEC held intensive campaign process in different ways for the voters to check their entries in the voter list, voting procedures, usage of de-registration card in the Presidential Elections, as well as calling to elections and cooperated in this field with media closely. Therewith, a number of educational posters on checking names in the voter list, CEC website, and hotline and others have been prepared and displayed in densely-populated areas (shopping and entertainment centers, bus stops and other social welfare places). Alongside with all these, pursuant to the Election Code, notifications containing the educational information on the address of the polling station to vote, place and date of the voting, the list of the identification documents to be used in the voting process, voting procedures and other issues were printed and distributed in accordance with the number of voters within the timeframe defined by legislation.

In general, eight video and audio clips on different issues prepared by CEC in regard with calling to voting, emphasizing the E-day, voting procedures and rules for marking the ballot paper were broadcasted regularly in TV and radio channels functioning in the country and played an important role in awareness-raising of voters.

Considering special importance of legal framework in the improvement of the election practice, CEC has focused on the process of compilation and development of the legal framework to prepare and conduct the Presidential elections freely and fairly, thereby undertaking purposeful activities in this field. CEC published and distributed 16 collections of 48 normative documents including instructions, comments and rules to lower election commissions upon making amendments to them to raise awareness of lower election commission members, also other election stakeholders, to implement the legislation provisions professionally and to increase their skills on the election process. All the legal documents, 11 out of which concerned Presidential elections and 37 on general and other stages of the election process were posted on the CEC website in Azerbaijani and English languages.

Public awareness-raising has always played an important role for CEC. In the light of the Presidential elections, CEC had intensified the relations with mass media further since the beginnings of February. The activity of CEC had been fully open to the mass media to ensure transparency in the work of the Commission. They were informed on the CEC sessions in advance. Media representatives were invited to the CEC activities and acquired necessary information regularly. CEC had held press conferences and briefings on different issues since the day of announcing the elections to raise public awareness on the preparation and conduct of the elections, delivered information on all the projects to be carried out in the elections to the mass media functioning in the country and published press releases and articles. More than 80 briefings of the CEC Chairman, Commission members, Secretariat administration and officials were held for the TV channels functioning in the country and in their interviews they informed the community on the latest projects carried out and other activities undertaken for the preparations to the elections and also clarified the questions of journalists.

Since the day that the elections were declared, hundreds of different materials on the Commission sessions and the activities arranged were published. Furthermore, 106 presentations by the CEC Chairman, Commission members and officials of the Secretariat were publicized by the mass media. Electronic and printed information means allocated much space for the CEC sessions, the organized events and the documents adopted. Different press releases, presentations and articles on the CEC activity were published in the press and also, according to the Election Code, CEC decisions, other legal and normative documents were published in "Azerbaijan” newspaper and posted on the CEC official website. Generally, the activities undertaken by CEC were broadcasted by media regularly.

The TV interviews of the CEC representatives were also one of the projects aiming at raising the public awareness regarding the Presidential elections. The CEC members and Secretariat officials had delivered presentations on different issues regarding the Presidential elections at the "Khalg sechir” ("People elect”) program broadcasted once a week at rush hours on Public TV from February since the announcement of the elections. Furthermore, 8 large-volume educational articles by the CEC members and Secretariat officials on different procedures related the elections were published in the "Azerbaijan” newspaper.

Lower election commissions also made speech in mass media regularly and in their interviews the Con.EC chairpersons informed the voters on the activities implemented in the field of election preparations on the constituency level.

All relevant bodies led by CEC had implemented all necessary activities to ensure transparency in the Presidential elections. The practice of using webcams which had been applied in the country since 2008 and allows monitoring of the voting process lively were continued in these elections, too. Along with other means to ensure transparency in elections, webcams were installed in 1000 polling stations (approx. in 20% of the polling stations), which cover the whole territory of the country. This issue was reviewed at the CEC session, a relevant decision was adopted and the list of the polling stations with webcams installed was published and posted on the CEC official website. On March 28, 2018 administration of CEC and Ministry of Transportation, Communication and High Technologies visited the Centre for Technical Surveillance of Webcams, they got familiarized with the latest preparations of webcams and the readiness of the equipments. On E-day internet users were able to observe the voting process, vote counting and tabulation incessantly and lively upon the access to the CEC website without any requirement of registration either within the country or abroad.

As in elections of previous years, CEC established Independent Media Centre (IMC) in the Presidential elections of 2018, too. The main goal in the activity of the Centre equipped with high-technology was to broadcast the elections broadly, timely and fairly as well as, with the aim of ensuring transparency in elections to help domestic and international media representatives in availability and publicize of information. Media representatives were provided with full access to computers, phones and fax machines, also free and speedy internet at the Centre functioning for 24 hours in elections. Having used the availability of these opportunities, international (foreign) observation missions held press conferences at the Independent Media Centre on E-day and the proceeding days, thereby delivering their election-related statements to the public. The website - www.secki-2018.az of the Centre in Azerbaijan, Russian and English languages functioned regularly and played an important role in publicizing different information on the election process, opinions, presentations and statements, as well as, photos and videos of authorized persons.

The Presidential elections were of great interest to broad community. Monitoring of the election process by large number of observers confirms the public interest in the Presidential elections. Very simple and straightforward procedure for observers’ registration implied by legislation further facilitated the interested persons to join the election observation, thereby enhancing transparency. Thus, every person with suffrage who intended to monitor the elections could apply to CEC or Con.EC upon fulfilling the blank form by attaching two photos and were entitled to observe the elections after they have been accredited independently and without any obstacle.

In general, 58175 domestic observers were accredited to monitor the elections. 1969 domestic observers were accredited by CEC to observe within the whole country, 1252 of whose were from non-governmental organizations, 234 from political parties, 115 by presidential candidates, 367 on their own initiatives and one person was entitled to participate at the CEC sessions upon having got a specific permission. Another group of domestic observers were accredited by relevant Con.ECs to observe within a certain election constituency. The number of these observers was 56206, 30890 of whose participated in the observation of the elections from 12 political parties, 2789 persons from 64 NGOs, 4357 persons by presidential candidates, 4611 persons by voters’ initiative groups and 13559 persons on their own initiatives.

894 international observers representing 61 international (foreign) organizations and 59 countries also joined the observation process. Both domestic and international observers were provided with relevant badges. Furthermore, domestic and international observers were submitted "Election Day Guide”, therewith, international observers were also provided with the Election Code and "Guide for Observers” in English and Russian languages. Along with mass media representatives, international organizations and diplomatic representations in the country were also informed and invited in advance to the CEC sessions and all other organized events.

Pursuant to the Election Code, Citizens’ Labor Rights Protection League (with "AJF&Associates İnc.” organization (United States of America), "For the sake of Civil Society” Independent Consultation and Assistance Centre (with "Opinion Way” Sociological Research Institute (France)), "ELS” Independent Investigations Centre and "Ray” Monitoring Centre applied to CEC to hold exit-poll and were accredited upon the discussion of the Commission members.

After the Presidential Elections have been announced, the persons intending to participate as a candidate by political parties, on own initiatives and voters’ initiative groups submitted relevant documents to the Central Election Commission. In general, 15 contestants (8 by political parties, 6 on their own initiatives and one by voters’ initiative group) submitted the relevant documents required for the approval of their candidacy to the Central Election Commission, their nomination were approved and provided with signature sheets.

5 out of 15 nominees whose candidacies have been approved did not return signature sheets. The candidacies of 8 out of 10 nominees who have returned signature sheets and the attachment documents were registered. It was impossible to register the candidacy of 2 nominees due to the lack of sufficient number of signature sheets. 6 persons out of 8 registered candidates were nominated by political parties, one person on own initiative and another one by the voters’ initiative group.

The examination process of candidates’ documents was conducted fully and transparently for the public and all the interested actors. The authorized representatives of political parties, presidential candidates, the representatives of international observation missions and mass media were invited to the examination process and got familiar with the documents through following the whole processes.

Pre-election campaign period commenced after the candidates’ registration has ended. To this end, the Central Election Commission put many steps for providing candidates with equal opportunities, thereby ensuring equal pre-election campaign. For pre-election campaign actors to be provided with the law-based opportunities, lower election commissions led by the Central Election Commission and other relevant bodies undertook all the activities within their competence and pre-election campaign atmosphere based on equal conditions was formed to hold free, fair and transparent election in the country. Thus, by CEC decision, Public TV allocated candidates free airtime for 6 hours a week, which is two times more than the time limit defined in the legislation to deliver their messages to their voters. CEC considered the applications of registered candidates and political parties the candidates of which had been registered and determined separate topics for each broadcast in accordance with their requests. Free airtime was appointed to rush hours of the week to conduct their pre-election campaign more effectively both on Public TV and Public Radio. Therewith, "Azerbaijan”, "Khalg gazeti” ("Popular newspaper”) and "Bakinskiy rabochi” newspapers allocated free space for publication, 34 mass media outlets provided payable airtime and space for publication for candidates’ free pre-election campaign. Along with all these, within the pre-election campaign activities 168 permanent venues, (84 – outdoor and 84 – indoor) were allocated in cities and regions of the country for campaign stakeholders to meet with voters pursuant to the Election Code. Presidential candidates could also use other relevant places implied in the Election Code except permanent venues to demonstrate their platforms to voters. Apart from other places, more than ten thousand billboards were at the disposal of campaign actors, which had been installed to locate the posters and other print materials during the pre-election campaign period. The campaign process that commenced from 19 March, 2018 was held under civil and modern requirements and lasted till 8.00 on April 10, 2018.

Pursuant to the Election Code, registered candidates to presidency submitted financial reports of the incomes and expenditures of their election funds to CEC. The reports were publicized on the CEC official website within the timeframe and manner defined in the legislation.

CEC put all necessary steps for the conduct of free, fair and transparent Presidential elections and informed the public on the election process regularly. During the election campaign the Commission had conducted 16 sessions and generally, 90 decisions were adopted at those sessions. Decisions adopted within that period mainly embodied the issues regarding the appointment of the Presidential elections of the Republic of Azerbaijan to April 11, 2018, approval of the "Calendar Plan for the basic activities and measures on the conduct and preparation of the elections, the establishment of the Expert Group under CEC to investigate complaints against the actions (inactions) and decisions violating citizens’ election rights, the approval of 15 nominees to presidency, registration of candidates’ authorized representatives, the organization of awareness-raising of lower election commission members as in compliance with the "National Activity Program to increase the efficiency of protecting human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, approved by Order of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, dated December 27, 2011, conforming the polling stations of some Con.ECs to the representation norm of voters’ number, compilation of permanent voter list on the Republic of Azerbaijan, the rules for preparation and number of the final protocols on the voting results of the election commissions, registration of presidential candidates, rules for the text, format, number and preparation rules of notifications and ballot papers, verification of members with consultative rights at CEC, determination of relevant election constituencies to include the voters who vote outside the country in the voters’ list, establishment of lottery commission to distribute free airtime, defining the date and place of the lottery, conduct of lottery to distribute the free airtime allocated by the Public TV, results protocol and publication of the distribution table, registration of agents, accreditation of the organizations which applied to hold "exit-poll”, the installation of webcams in the polling stations, finalization of the Presidential elections and submission of the CEC protocol on the voting results with the relevant documents to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, making amendments to some normative documents of the Commission, making amendments to the structures of some Con.ECs and approval of the session minutes.

One of the main fields of the CEC activity is cooperation with international and foreign organizations. Different projects and meetings had been implemented and the opportunities of the future partnership were discussed in the frame of this cooperation. During the Presidential elections meetings of the Chairman of the Central Election Commission were held with the delegations of observation missions of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, CIS Parliamentary Assembly, Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic Speaking Countries, Turkic Council, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Russian Federation Council, Austrian Parliament, as well as, heads and representatives of supreme election management bodies of Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Uzbekistan and other countries. During the meetings experiences on different issues with regard to the Presidential elections were shared and the perspectives of partnership in the fields of mutual interest were discussed. Furthermore, other representatives of CEC also conducted meetings with the delegates of international organizations, meanwhile, cooperated with the local and international NGOs which had applied with the aim of awareness-raising, thereby rendering necessary assistance to them.

Within the frame of international relations, CEC representatives also participated in different international observation missions in elections of foreign countries, therewith making presentations and replied to the addressed inquiries during international conferences, symposiums, seminars and other events.

A broad monitoring was implemented regarding the preparations to the Presidential elections, the equipment needs of Con.ECs and PECs were assessed and all necessary steps were put for the supply of lower election commissions. Thus, lower election commissions were made ready for the voting day upon being provided with necessary print materials, mobile and stationary ballot boxes to be used on the E-day, invisible ink boxes, ultraviolet lamp and spare batteries for them, voting booths, disposable security locks, specific bags for protocols, handbags for documents’ transfer, office materials and other necessary stuff.

Different projects are carried out in elections held in Azerbaijan to ensure that along with all groups of voters, voters with different disabilities can also participate in elections independently, thereby targeting such voters’ active integration into society and availability of equal opportunities for them.

During the Presidential Elections of 2018 the voters with visual disability could vote for their candidate freely and independently upon using the special stencils with the all information of the ballot paper in Braille alphabet prepared for such voters. CEC has been applying this practice since 2003.

For the awareness-raising of the hard of hearing voters, all the voting procedures were explained thoroughly in subtitle of a video clip prepared within voter education program of CEC and this project contributed to the awareness-raising of the hard of hearing voters.

Mobile ramps were used for the voters with mobility impairment to come to the polling station and vote independently. The researches held for the whole country identified 1455 polling stations settled by voters with mobility impairment and mobile ramps were installed for those voters’ independent movement in polling stations. So, all polling stations had been made suitable for such voters. Along with all these, pursuant to the Election Code, the voters who could not come to the polling station on E-day due to their health reasons or other valid excuses were ensured to vote by mobile ballot box.

The format and number of ballot papers were approved by CEC and their printing started from March 24, 2018, thus in general, 5347803 ballot papers were printed within the time period and rules defined by law and they were distributed to Con.ECs and from Con.ECs to PECs. The print materials also included final protocols for Con.ECs and PECs, which had been delivered to lower election commissions upon the publication as in compliance with the Election Code. Therewith, the sufficient samples of final protocols were provided to PECs to distribute to observers and other interested subjects.

Pursuant to the Election Code, 41 polling stations were established in the embassies, consulate offices and diplomatic missions to foreign countries for the citizens of Azerbaijan living outside the Republic of Azerbaijan to implement their voting rights in the Presidential elections. Like other polling stations located within the territory of the country, those precincts were also provided with necessary election documents and other equipments and made ready for the voting day. By the Commission decision, the issue on inclusion of the voters registered in the polling stations established for the out-of-country voting in Presidential elections in the lists on the election constituencies was discussed and a relevant decision was adopted.

The State Automated Information System – "Elections” Information System plays an important role in ensuring transparency of the process on the voting day. Technical supply and software of the "Elections” Information System was updated and strengthened and relevant database was reviewed for easy and secure entry to the network, publicizing different election-related information by lower election commissions and update of the voters’ lists with the aim of ensuring transparency in the Presidential elections. The program software was improved further to receive and work out, also to print the voters’ lists more effectively and to conduct relevant checks in the lists. The improved special program modules facilitated the checking of spelling mistakes, revealing repetitions, founding out the identical information and elimination of technical errors, as well as implementing other analyzes and comparisons in voters’ lists. The optic network between CEC and Con.ECs, which covers the country territory ensured more effective and easy information exchange with lower election commissions.

The voting on the whole country was opened at 8.00 a.m. and voters went to the polling stations to express their will freely on the E-day – April 11, 2018. The information on voters’ turnout was transmitted to CEC via special software through the State Automated Information System and posted on the website five times on the voting day – at 10.00, 12. 00, 15.00, 17.00 and 19.00. The TV channels functioning in the country broadcasted live interviews and news releases to publicize the activity of CEC and lower election commissions and took active part in the processing of the information submitted to CEC. After the polling stations have been closed on the voting day, the votes started to be counted incessantly. For local and international community to be familiar with the election results, preliminary election results was fully delivered to the public within 4 hours after the ending of voting based on the data received "online” from 3675 polling stations (65.15%) out of 5641 polling stations at 23.00, 5201 polling stations (92.20%) two hours later in the midnight at 01.00 and all the polling stations at 12.00 on April 12, 2018.

Immediately after the announcement of the Presidential elections, Expert Group consisting of the CEC members and professional lawyers was established to investigate the appeals filed regarding the violation of the election right more efficiently, fairly and timely for the guarantee of citizens’ rights to vote as in compliance with the Election Code and Instruction worked out jointly by CEC and Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Expert Groups were also formed at Con.ECs within the timeframe defined in the legislation. CEC and lower election commissions had not received any complaint or appeal neither in the preparation period for the elections, nor on the E-day and the following periods. Nearly, 300 inquiries received by the hotline # 115 and electronic hotlines, which concerned mainly the checking of the entries in the voters’ lists, addresses of polling stations and other similar issues were promptly responded and necessary measures were undertaken.

The Con.EC voting protocols together with the attached documents were submitted to CEC within 2 days after the voting day as in compliance with the rules defined by legislation and those documents, also other relevant materials were examined fully, thoroughly and fairly within the timeframe and rules defined by legislation.

On April 15, 2018, the Presidential elections was finalized at the session of the Central Election Commission, voting results protocol of CEC was compiled and approved upon being signed by the Commission members, therewith a decision was adopted on the submission for approval by the Constitutional Court. The Commission decided to invalidate the voting results in 4 polling stations and to dismiss the full composition of 2 PECs due to the law violations impeding to determine voters’ will.

All election-related information is available on the Commission website (www.msk.gov.az, www.cec.gov.az, www.infocenter.gov.az) and has been at the disposal of users throughout the election process. They acquired different information on the website. The Constitution, Election Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, all instructions, rules, comments and decisions adopted by CEC (by being posted immediately after the Commission sessions) are posted in Azerbaijani and English languages on the website. The CEC decisions and information on the nomination and registration of presidential candidates were being posted on the website in Azerbaijani and English languages immediately after the session. Apart from these, dislocations of election constituencies and precincts, voters’ search system, information on previous elections and registered candidates, structures, addresses and contacts of election commissions, addresses and maps of polling stations, voter list, information on pre-election campaign, CEC press releases and other materials of great public interest were available on the website. It is worth noting that the CEC website had been viewed by more than 220000 users only on the voting day. The Commission webpage in social networks was also at the disposal of users and all the information was regularly updated and posted on the websites.