On March 17, within the framework of the campaign for the early elections to Mazhilis of Parliament and Maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan, scheduled for March 19, 2023, presided by Nurlan Abdirov, a regular meeting was held, at which the following issues were discussed: the results of election training for members of election commissions and other participants in the electoral process; the results of the pre-election campaign, consideration of appeals from individuals and entities received by the Central Election Commission in the preparation for the elections, the preparation for the elections, the results of the pre-election campaign, the preparation for the parliamentary elections.
Chairmen and members of territorial election commissions of regions, cities of Astana, Almaty and Shymkent, and also heads of akims' offices of these regions took part in the meeting via video conferencing.
Also, the Deputy Prosecutor General, the Vice-Minister of Information and Social Development, senior officials of the Ministries of Justice, Interior, Finance and Foreign Affairs, representatives of the OSCE ODIHR Election Observation Mission and the CIS and SCO Observer Missions, as well as political parties and the mass media were invited.
Traditionally, the meeting was broadcast online on the Internet and YouTube, with sign language interpretation.
Turning to the first question, Nurlan Abdirov said that the Central Election Commission in any election campaign pays great attention to election education. After all, elections are not only social and political but also legal process.
Because observance by all participants of electoral process of the rights and duties established by law is the guarantor of public trust to the institute of elections and its legality.
Sabila Mustafina, a member of the Central Election Commission, made a report on the results of electoral training and said that, as in previous campaigns, training of members of election commissions at all levels, as well as other participants of the electoral process was organized by cascading method. The cascade method of training implies the principle of "Trainer teaches Trainer. The task of the territorial election commissions trained by the Central Election Commission was to deliver the training content to the lower territorial and precinct election commissions.
First of all, training of electoral commissions of all levels was organized. For these purposes, members of the CEC and the CEC staff made inspection trips to all the regions of the country from February 22 till March 14 and held 20 field seminar-meetings, which were attended by 1724 people.
The seminar-meetings consisted of two blocks. In the first block, all the issues related to the preparation and conduct of elections were discussed with the participation of the state bodies concerned, as well as the election headquarters of candidates, political parties, NGOs wishing to participate in election observation, and the media.
The second block included training sessions with members of territorial election commissions with a business game Voting Day.
According to Sabila Mustafina, the electoral training also covered other participants of electoral process. Seminars were held for employees of regional call centers, pre-election headquarters of political parties, in cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Social Development seminars were traditionally held for national and regional media on election news and campaigning. More than 400 journalists participated in these seminars.
An online seminar on the legal basis for election day observation was organized for 840 representatives of political parties, public associations and non-profit organizations, and two-day training on the electoral rights and needs of people with disabilities was conducted jointly with the OSCE Programme Office in Astana and Shyrak Association of Women with Disabilities.
Similar seminars were conducted at the regional level.
In addition, information audio and video clips, internet banners, infographic posters, modules and other explanatory materials prepared by the Central Election Commission were widely broadcast in mass media and social networks.
On the second question, the meeting participants were informed by Kanat Iskakov, Vice-Minister of Information and Public Development of Kazakhstan.
He reported that the Ministry has provided equal conditions for candidates to cover their activities as part of the election campaign. A lot of informational and explanatory work for citizens was carried out, as well as on the compliance of mass media and users of online platforms with the requirements of electoral legislation.
During campaigning period about 10 000 materials were placed in mass-media dedicated to activity of political parties and their pre-election headquarters, including more than 5 000 on TV, about 2 200 in printed editions and more than 2 600 on the Internet resources.
In these elections 7 parties took part in the pre-election race in total, so in terms of evenness the median value of the volume of materials in the media for each of them was about 14.3%.
According to the results of the IEOM monitoring, the principle of equal coverage of the candidates' campaign activities by the media was observed. There were no gross violations of the electoral or media legislation.
Also in terms of supervision over compliance with the law during the campaign period, Zhandos Umiraliev, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, reported separately. In particular, he said that there were 23 violations of the electoral law by candidates for the Majilis of the Parliament, including 12 cases of campaigning in the period when it is prohibited, 2 cases of disruption and damage of campaign materials, 3 cases of illegal polls, 4 cases of distribution of anonymous campaign materials. In all cases the guilty were held administratively liable after coordination with the Central Election Commission. As for the early elections of deputies to maslikhats, the prosecutors revealed 11 similar violations.
Nurlan Abdirov paid special attention to the fact that the election campaign ends at 00 o'clock local time on the day preceding the day of the election, i.e. today is the last day of the election campaign. Tomorrow, March 18, is the day of silence. He also reminded that any activities related to campaigning on the day of silence are prohibited and there is a legal responsibility for it in the legislation.
Turning to the third question, the CEC Chairman noted that the Constitutional law on elections provides state guarantees of electoral rights of citizens. In this regard, citizens' appeals to election commissions and electoral disputes are an important legal mechanism for realization of their constitutional right to elect and be elected. A large number of appeals to election commissions is an indicator of the activity of citizens and a proof of the effectiveness of this method of protecting their electoral rights.
Asylbek Smagulov, a member of CEC, made a report on this issue. He said that during the period of preparation to the elections the Central Election Commission received 451 appeals from physical and legal persons.
Most of them concerned the explanation of electoral legislation, accreditation of public associations for election monitoring, and mass media requests.
Over the same period, 166 suits were filed with the courts by candidates for deputies of Mazhilis of the Parliament and Maslikhats. 49 of them were satisfied, 84 were rejected, 15 were withdrawn by the plaintiffs, and 16 were left without consideration.
Nurlan Abdirov also informed the invitees at the meeting that on March 15, the meeting of the working group on ensuring electoral rights of the disabled which operates on a permanent basis under the Central Election Commission took place.
The activity of the working group is coordinated by CEC member Anastasia Schegortsova. She briefly said that during the meeting political parties were invited to consider the possibility of nominating citizens with disabilities as candidates for deputies to the maslikhats, as well as the possibility of conducting the election campaign taking into account the needs of people with disabilities.
By the way, in the current election campaign the practice of making campaign materials for candidates taking into account the needs of voters with disabilities has been introduced. In this campaign, for the first time, leaflets in Braille were produced.
Anastasia Schegortsova also reported that in all the regions there will be available stencils in Braille at the polling stations, as well as an audio version of the ballot with a list of parties that have nominated lists of candidates. In terms of ballots with the list of candidates for single-mandate constituencies to Mazhilis and for the elections of deputies to Maslikhats, a combined approach was used: stencils and audio version of the ballot were prepared.
The fourth issue of the meeting was the readiness of polling stations for the day of voting reported by chairmen of territorial election commissions. They informed about material and technical equipment of polling stations, equipment of the corners for disabled people, necessary information materials. It was also reported on the timely delivery of ballots to the polling stations and the issuance of absentee ballots.
During the hearing of the reports of the territorial election commissions Deputy Chairman of the CEC Konstantin Petrov pointed out that some candidates in social networks falsely urge the voters to get absentee voting certificates and vote for them in another electoral district. This is impossible, said Konstantin Petrov, explaining that in accordance with the Constitutional law on elections absentee certificate is not issued to the voters willing to vote in another constituency or in another polling station within the same locality.
Besides, the Deputy Chairman of the CEC gave explanations on the peculiarities of voting abroad. The whole territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan is represented as a part of a single nationwide electoral district.
Therefore voting at 77 polling stations established at Kazakhstan's foreign missions in 62 foreign countries would be held only by party lists of candidates for deputies to Mazhilis of the Parliament.
On the fifth question about the rights and obligations of participants in the electoral process, Zhandos Umiraliev, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, spoke. He reminded that on the silence day on March 18 and voting day on March 19 any agitation was prohibited.
On these days, it is also not allowed to publish in the media the results of surveys, forecasts of election results, other studies on election topics. Results of polls may be published in mass media only after the day of voting, i.e. after 00.00 on March 20, 2023.
Non-observance of the mentioned requirements of Constitutional law causes responsibility according to articles 102 and 120 of the Code of administrative violations.
He also drew the attention of observers from political parties, accredited public associations, non-profit organizations of Kazakhstan and proxies of candidates to the norm requiring them to have identity and credentials, and for foreign observers - identity and accreditation documents. They are forbidden to interfere in the electoral process, in the procedure of counting votes and decision-making by the election commission. It is important to comply with the rules of conduct at the polling station.
Zhandos Umiraliev also stressed that the observers and proxies have the right to take photos, audio and video recordings, without interfering with the voting process and summarizing the results. However it is important to remember that the exercise of this right can't infringe on the human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the principle of secrecy of the vote.
Closing the meeting the head of the CEC noted that the voting day must be held in strict accordance with the provisions of the Constitutional law on elections. He separately called upon the electoral commissions of all levels to show high professionalism and responsibility to ensure openness and transparency of the elections to the representative bodies of the country.
Traditionally, after the session there was a briefing for the mass media, where members of the Central Electoral Commission answered their questions.