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The Voting Booths Have Eyes

On the eve of Azerbaijan's presidential vote, that country's Central Election Commission has announced plans for 500 webcams to offer images from one in 10 polling stations. Ostensibly they say it's to boost openness and fairness, including to ensure against voter fraud.

Our Georgian Service might offer some insight based on experience. That country installed closed-circuit cameras at voting booths in 2005 and again during the early 2008 presidential election. The problem there appeared to stem from the fact that, despite pledges to the contrary, the resulting footage was not necessarily made available to just anyone -- ombudsman (and former RFE/RL freelancer) Sozar Subari included.

Back in Azerbaijan, voters can be excused their skepticism. One such skeptic is a teacher who told our Azerbaijani Service about a recent evening when police arrived at his home to count the number of eligible voters in his household. Before leaving, an officer growled, "We'll just see who you vote for!"

-- Ruzanna Zeynalova with Andy Heil

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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