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Home » Elections » Presidential elections » Presidential Elections - 11.04.2018 » Information of the Central Election Commission regarding the opportunities and activities for the preparation to the Presidential Elections in the Republic of Azerbaijan

I n f o r m a t i o n

of the Central Election Commission regarding the opportunities and
activities for the preparation to the Presidential Elections
in the Republic of Azerbaijan

All the activities regarding the Presidential Elections in the Republic of Azerbaijan appointed to April 11, 2018 have been implemented subsequently and thoroughly as in compliance with the Calendar Plan compiled and approved by the Central Election Commission (CEC) through abiding by the requirements of the Election Code. CEC and relevant state bodies have fulfilled their duties enshrined in the Election Code very effectively to organize the elections efficiently. The steps put for the conduct of the elections fairly, freely and transparently as in compliance with the legislation, could be categorized into several fields:

Update of voter lists

Voter lists are one of the most important documents to ensure citizens’ rights to elect and to be elected, to hold free and fair elections as defined in the Constitution. Pursuant to the Election Code, the update of single voter list on the country started since the beginnings of January of 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 by relevant bodies (local Registration and ID card Department, Department for State Registration of Citizenship Status Acts and other bodies of citizens’ registration). In the next stage, CEC collected the voters’ database, checked possible identicals and inaccurateness of names via special software for quantitative 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. He interest and active turnout of Azerbaijan voters in the update of voter lists, broadcasting of video and audio clips on checking voters’ entries, prepared by CEC in TV and radio channels throughout the update process, as well as, the hotline # 115 of the Central Election Commission and onlineservice of the website have 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 issues. 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 under the direct supervision of the Central Election Commission.

Improvement of legal framework

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 of the Presidential elections freely and fairly, thereby undertaking purposeful activities in this field. CEC published and distributed 16 collections of 38 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 skills on the right to participate in elections. All the legal documents are posted in Azerbaijani and English languages on the CEC website.

Condition of lower election commissions

The Central Election Commission held necessary monitoring of the conditions of Con.ECs and PECs concerning the preparations to the upcoming Presidential elections. Thus, lower election commissions were made ready by being fully provided with necessary print materials, ballot boxes to use on E-day, invisible ink bottles, ultraviolet lamp, batteries for them, voting booths, disposable security locks, special bags for protocols, bags to carry documents, office materials and other necessary equipment.

Since 2003 CEC has been using special stencils with the all information of the ballot paper in Braille alphabet for the fully or partly visually disabled people. The tradition will continue in these Presidential Elections, too. Every PEC is going to be provided with stencils in Braille alphabet. The visually disabled citizens who have suffrage will vote for any candidate they want independently upon using these special stencils.

Mobile ramps will be used for the voters with mobility impairment to come to the polling station and vote. The researches held for the whole the country identified 1455 polling stations settled by voters with mobility impairment and mobile ramps were installed for those voters to come to polling stations independently. So, all polling stations have been made suitable for such voters. The ramps will also facilitate the persons using wheelchair to come to polling stations independently and vote. Generally, pursuant to the Election Code, the voters who cannot come to the polling station on E-day due to their health reasons have always been ensured to vote at home by mobile ballot boxes. The use of ramps will allow their integration into society and vote independently by coming to the polling stations like all other voters.

Educational activities

Awareness-raising is of great importance to CEC through the election process. The Commission prepared education programs in 18 spheres and implemented large-scale projects on a regular basis for different participants of the election process.

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, a broad project in two stages was carried out with the aim of awareness-raising of Con.EC and PEC members. In the first stage a seminar was held for the Con.EC chairpersons on 15 February at the CEC premises. 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 chairmen and clarified the issues interesting to them.

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 general, professional courses encompassed more than 6000 election officials and during the courses lower election commission members acquired detailed information on the election process.

Within the education program of the Central Election Commission, three-day seminars on the investigation of the election-related appeals 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.

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 and commented on the voting day procedures thoroughly.

As in previous years, during the Presidential elections awareness-raising of lower election commissions has been focused on and a training project in two stages was implemented. 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, therewith, the cases, possible 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 undertaken by CEC for the conduct of the Presidential elections, the projects to be carried out, as well as, the voting arrangement, domestic and international observers, their rights and duties, the participation of mass media representatives in elections and other matters were thoroughly commented on and the questions were replied to at the discussion time.

The 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 Azerbaijan citizens’ rights 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 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 Media Council. Incumbents of the Central Election Commission, the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Central Election Commission, National TV and Radio Council and Media 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 members 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 to increase the information of the police on the role in the election process. The similar activities are planned to be conducted in Shaki (30 March) and Baku (2 April). The responsible officials of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan, CEC members and 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 using it and the questions interesting to them were clarified.

Educational materials

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 in Azerbaijani and English languages on the CEC official website to be available for all the election stakeholders.

Furthermore, basing on the Election Code, relevant Laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan and instructions, comments, rules approved by the Commission, CEC compiled "Election Day Guide” in Azerbaijani and English, "Guide for Observers” in Azerbaijani, English and Russian to raise awareness of observers, "Guide for the participation of police in the Presidential Elections” to improve further the service of the police officials in the election process and "Guide for the participation of mass media in the Presidential Elections”. All the booklets contain the clear information on the rights and duties of the relevant stakeholders in the election process, also on the issues prohibited for them as defined in law. The guidebooks have been distributed to the addresses and lower election commissions to be available for the election stakeholders.

Voter education

The Central Election Commission has always focused on voter education and many projects have been carried out in this field. CEC held intensive campaign process in different ways for the voters to check their entries in the voter list, 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 and posters calling to elections – "Check your name in the voter list”, "Do not forget to check your name in the voter list”, "Hotline – 115 of the Central Election Commission”, "Online voter lists” and others have been prepared and displayed in densely-populated areas (shopping and entertainment centers, bus stops and other social welfare places).

5 video and audio educational clips in different fields, prepared by CEC were also regularly played in the TV and radio channels functioning in the country and carried an important role in awareness-raising of voters.

Voter education in different ways is still underway.

Public education

Public education on the preparation of the Presidential Elections has regularly focused on and CEC has cooperated with mass media closely through the whole campaign period. CEC activity has been fully open to ensure transparency in the work of the Commission. Mass media outlets were informed on the CEC sessions in advance, were invited to the CEC activities and acquired necessary information. CEC has held briefings on different genuine issues since the start of elections with the aim of public awareness-raising on the preparation and conduct of elections, the media outlets functioning in the country were informed, therewith, press releases and articles were published on all the projects carried out. CEC Chairman, Commission members, Secretariat administration and officials held more than 50 briefings for the TV channels functioning in the country and in their statements, these officials informed the public on the latest projects and activities undertaken in the field of preparations to the elections, thereby clarifying the issues of great interest to journalists.

Since the day that the election contest started, different materials on the Commission sessions and the activities arranged were published. Electronic and printed information means allocated much space for the CEC sessions, the organized events and the decisions adopted. All the decisions of CEC are published and posted in Azerbaijani and English languages on the CEC website without delay as in compliance with the Election Code.

The articles of the CEC representatives in local media and their interviews in the TV and radio also played a special role in the voters’ education. CEC members and Secretariat officials made speeches regarding the Presidential Elections at "Khalg sechir” ("People elect”) education program broadcasted once a week in Public TV at more appropriate time for the population since the start of elections. Along with all these, a number of educational articles of the Commission members and Secretariat officials dedicated to different election-related subjects were published in "Azerbaijan” newspaper.

Candidate nomination and registration

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 and their nomination were approved. 5 out of 15 contestants 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 the one by the voters’ initiative group.

The examination process of candidates’ documents had been 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.

Equal pre-election campaign opportunities

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, Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company allocated free airtime for 6 hours a week, which is two times more than the time limit defined in the legislation, therewith, "Khalg gazeti” ("Popular newspaper”) and "Bakinskiy rabochi” newspapers allocated free space for publication. 34 mass media outlets provided payable airtime and space for publication. 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 to meet with voters pursuant to the Election Code. Meanwhile, 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 is being held under civil and modern requirements and will last till 8.00 on April 10, 2018.

Ensure of transparency and openness

All relevant bodies led by CEC have implemented all necessary activities to ensure transparency in the Presidential elections. The practice of using webcams which has been applied in the country since 2008 and allows monitoring of the voting process lively will be continued in these elections, too. Along with other means to ensure transparency in elections, webcams have been installed in 1000 polling stations (approx. in 20% of the polling stations), which cover the whole territory of the country. This issue is under the technical review and it is going to be considered at the CEC session, a relevant decision will be adopted and the list of the polling stations where webcams are going to be installed will be published and posted on the CEC official website. On E-day internet users will be 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.

The Presidential elections are of great interest to broad community. So, 54431 domestic observers have been accredited so far to monitor the elections. 1159 domestic observers were accredited by CEC to observe within the whole country, 722 of whose were from non-governmental organizations, 179 from political parties, 237 on their own initiatives and one person is 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 reached 53272, 29964 of whose participate in the observation of the elections from 12 political parties, 2987 persons fromy 62 NGOs, 4216 persons by presidential candidates, 4205 persons by voters’ initiative groups and 11900 persons on their own initiatives.

445 international observers representing 41 international organizations and 50 countries have also joined the observation process so far. 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. Not only mass media representatives, but also 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 all the applications were positively responded and these organizations were accredited upon the discussion of the Commission members.

CEC website

All election-related information is regularly posted on the Commission website (www.msk.gov.az, www.cec.gov.az, www.infocenter.gov.az). 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 available in Azerbaijan and English languages on the website. The CEC decisions and information on the nomination and registration of presidential candidates have being posted in Azerbaijani and English languages on the website immediately after the session. Alongside with all 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 are available on the website. The Commission webpage in social networks is also at the disposal of the users and all the information is regularly updated and posted on these websites.