International expert suggests changes to Kazakhstan electoral rules
Kazakhstani legislation governing elections should be improved, a Tengrinews correspondent reports from the international conference in Astana dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Kazakhstan referring to Aleksei Kartsov, an expert of the International Institute of Monitoring Democracy Development, Parliamentary and Electoral Rights of citizens at the auspices of the Interparliamentary Assembly of CIS.
"The regulatory control of the election process in Kazakhstan has space for improvement to better comply with international obligations related to elections undertaken by the country," Kartsov said.
In particular, the expert mentioned insufficient level of liability for violations involving issuance of ballots that can enable proxy voting. He believes that in Kazakhstan the punishment - a relatively small administrative fine - for such an act is not commensurate with the offence. The liability "is not fully correspondent with danger posed by the violation," he said.
“According to Article 110 of the new Code of Administrative Offences, it is punishable by a meager fine of 25 monthly calculation indices (around $265), even though issuance of multiple ballots into the same hands is a mean of ballot rigging," Kartsov said.
He drew attention to the fact that under the national legislation of Kazakhstan, neither issuing ballots to improper persons by a member of the precinct election commission nor ballot-box stuffing are considered crimes.
"These also carry an administrative fine because these acts qualify as administrative offenses. Moreover, they are not considered a crime even in combination with the above mentioned actions, or making changes into the voter lists after the commencement of the vote counting that usually aims to cover up the ballot rigging. This act likewise carries an administrative fine, but of even smaller magnitude," the expert said.
He stressed that among the penalties imposed in Kazakhstan for an administrative offense, there was no deprivation of a special right to be a member of the election commission.
"This means that even repeated fines for distortion of results of voting cannot prevent the person from getting on an election commission," Kartsov said.
Kartsov also touched on deprivation of passive electoral right. According to him, citizens of Kazakhstan who committed a very wide range of corruption crimes and offenses are deprived of this right for lifetime.
"It would be desirable to reduce the list of acts of corruption that are ground for the deprivation of passive electoral right, at least with respect to the acts qualified as administrative offenses. On the other hand, this list could be extended at the expense of the perpetrators of electoral crimes, those convicted of falsification of voting results. In the international practice, as a rule, this serves as a reason for limiting or altogether depriving a person of the passive voting right," the expert said.
However, he noted that all the above points did not change the overall picture: the electoral legislation of Kazakhstan as a whole ensured the country's compliance with its international obligations. He added that the national law of Kazakhstan provided a level playing field for participants in the election process.
Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina