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Ukraine: Ballot's Complexity Reflects Choices In Elections

Central Election Commission Chairman Yaroslav Davidovich displays the ballot for the March 26 elections (epa) Election officials say turnout in today's parliamentary polls in Ukraine was approximately 60 percent. Some 45 parties were contesting four elections that were being held simultaneously -- the parliamentary vote and three additional local elections: the mayor of Kyiv, the Kyiv City Council, and the local district council. Ballots were very long and not easy to read. As the average voter took around 15 minutes to fill out their ballot form, there were long lines outside some polling stations.

KYIV, March 26, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Oleksandr Vanyurikhin, head of the
election commission at polling station No. 9, in Kyiv's Pechersk
district, said that voting had been brisk and on the whole smooth.

"We started a meeting of our local election commission at 6:15 this
morning that lasted 45 minutes," he said. "We decided on what everyone
would do, where each of us would sit and what our duties would be. We
opened the safe, took out the voting ballots and were open at 7 a.m.
for voting."

Vanyurikhin said that the voting procedure was far more complex than in
previous elections and there had been difficulties. He said some
elderly people had spent more than half an hour completing their ballot

"The previous elections [the presidential poll in 2004] were by
comparison very easy because there were only two candidates: Yushchenko
and Yanukovych," he said. "The ballot papers were very short and
simple. But today we have four separate ballot papers for candidates
for parliament, the mayor of Kyiv, the Kyiv City Council, and the local
district council."

By 7 p.m. Kyiv time, just over 800 of the district's 1,300 registered
voters had cast their ballots. Vanyurikhin, who has served four times
on his local election commission, anticipated less than 1,000 people
would have voted before the end of the day -- a slightly lower turnout
than in the presidential election.

Another member of polling station's commission was Kateryna Balakina, a
student at Kyiv University. She thought that there would be a lower
turnout because many people had been disappointed by what they thought
was the poor performance of the Orange coalition and were disillusioned
by the split between the two former Orange Revolution leaders,
President Viktor Yushchenko, leader of the Our Ukraine bloc, and former
Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko.

"More people than last time will fail to vote, I can tell you that with
certainty," she said. "I think this is not just how students feel but
the majority of people. The Our Ukraine team fell apart into many
different groups so that the unity that existed during the Orange
Revolution is no longer there and the unity that was among the people.
Now we see that those politicians who were once together now insult one
another and have practically become opponents and that is a very
extreme change."

Pensioner Maria Strylchenko said that the only person she trusted was
President Yushchenko, but after she had studied the complex ballot
paper she couldn't find his name anywhere and so didn't vote for

"If I had found the name Yushchenko anywhere I would have voted for it
but he was not there," she said. "I sat down and was reading it and
couldn't find him so at the end I just wrote on it that I was voting
for nobody."

Lawyer Svetlana Chykyndyuk came to the polling station with her
daughter, Yuliya, a student. Both said they had voted for Tymoshenko.
They hoped that Tymoshenko's party would unite with Yushchenko's Our
Ukraine to renew the Orange coalition.

"I voted for the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc because I regard her as a very
strong and intelligent woman and she will be able to defend Ukraine's
citizens and can represent their interests in a dignified way,"
Chykyndyuk said.

Shortly after closing the polling stations, exit polls put the
pro-Russian Party of Regions in first place with the Yuliya Tymoshenko
Bloc following close behind.

The Key Players

The Key Players

BEHIND THE IMAGES: Click on the links below to read RFE/RL's profiles of some of the key players in Ukraine's March 26 legislative elections:

Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.

Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of some of the key players in the Ukrainian elections.

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