Authorities report voter turnout of 77.05 percent in local elections

As many as 5,333,613 people, or 77.05 percent of all eligible voters, cast their ballots in Belarus’ February 13-18 elections for local soviets (councils), according to the central election commission.

A total of 84.49 percent of all eligible voters reportedly voted in the Vitsyebsk region, 82.26 percent in the Mahilyow region, 80.76 percent in the Homyel region, 79.81 percent in the Hrodna region, 79.16 percent in the Brest region, 77.97 percent in the Minsk region, and 61.41 percent in the city of Minsk. There was no turnout threshold in the ballot.

Voters in 18,111 electoral districts were to elect a total of 1,309 soviets, including six regional soviets, the Minsk City Soviet, 118 district soviets, 24 city soviets, eight soviets in urban-type villages and 1,152 village soviets.

Observers and opposition activists reported multiple violations of electoral regulations, accusing precinct election commissions of inflating voter turnout figures during early voting and highlighting instances of “carousel” voting, an illegal practice where a group of people casts ballots many times at different polling stations. In addition, a lot of independent election monitors were ejected from polling stations for controversial reasons.

Voter turnout of 77.4 percent was reported by the central election commission in the previous local elections in 2014.