MLA Michelle Mungall in Ukraine

Nelson-Creston MLA enthuses about Ukraine experience

Michelle Mungall says observing last month’s election in Ukraine was “wonderful” — even if the overall results have been called unfair.



Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall says scrutinizing last month’s parliamentary election in Ukraine was  “wonderful” — even though international observers have denounced the overall results as unfair.

“It was a great experience,” she said in an interview. “I definitely feel we had a positive impact, especially at the rural, community level.”

Mungall spent close to two weeks in the country as part of a 430-member Canadian delegation, arriving October 20 and departing Thursday.

She spent the first few days in Kiev being briefed on the Ukrainian electoral process — a combination of proportional representation and first-past-the-post — as well as the political landscape. They were told any problems on the ground would be subtle, so they had to know what to look for.

Mungall was sent to the riding of Drohobych in western province of Lviv province. The university town has a population of about 35,000 and is surrounded by many rural villages.

For three days, along with a driver, translator, and colleague, she toured precincts to see if ballots arrived in appropriate numbers and were handled properly. Mungall says at times there weren’t enough or more of one type than another, but election officials tried to sort out these discrepancies.

Come election day October 28, Mungall says voting was conducted efficiently at the 10 polls she visited, although some things seemed suspicious.

“At one precinct I felt something was going on that may have not been completely above board, but I did not observe anything specific,” she said. “All I could do was report that ‘Four men came out of a car, they had a list, they were on the phone, they never voted, they noted our presence, and left.’“

Other than that incident, Mungall says election workers appeared to be doing everything they could to ensure a free and fair election, and she felt “incredibly welcomed … People running that level of the election were appreciative of the opportunity to show us the job they were doing.”

Once the polls closed, the manual count also went smoothly. But then things fell apart: vote tabulations had to be filled out for the district election commissions, but there were no pre-printed forms.

Every candidate and party had to be written out — 22 of them in the poll Mungall observed. “Five hours was spent writing these things out,” she says. “By the time they were done, everybody was exhausted.”

Results were delivered in the middle of the night to the district commission.

“There was an incredible amount of confusion, disorganization and difficulty in this part of the process,” Mungall said. “From here, the commission would go into a room and input everything into a computer. Very few observers were allowed to observe that process … This is where unfortunately we can’t say if everything went smoothly.”

Official results saw the governing Party of Regions retain the largest number of seats, 187 of 450. Ballots are still being counted, but international observers have noted irregularities and discrepancies at higher levels of the electoral process.

Electoral authorities this week called for recounts in five disputed districts, and hundreds gathered in Kiev to protest what they claim was vote rigging by the ruling party.

“At the end, the will of the Ukrainian people was not respected, and there was considerable intimidation against media freedom,” Mungall said, adding the ruling party was criticized for overusing government resources to bolster its re-election chances.

For all of that, Mungall, who previously served as an election observer in Zambia in 2006, says she would encourage others to try it.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “Being on the ground and seeing what it meant to people on the local level provided me with the understanding that sometimes we take it for granted here in Canada. Most of us never knew what it’s like not to have the right to vote.”

Just Posted

Castlegar council set to rule on three retail cannabis proposals

Residents have until Dec. 27 to comment on the business proposals

Nelson Boxing named province’s top club

The club won several awards while going 13-1 at provincials

Nelson council rejects review of mayor’s salary

Mayor Dooley proposed that $10,000 of his pay be put in trust and a review undertaken

Nelson-area man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

West Kootenay highways a mess as heavy snowfall continues

‘Roads are very icy, people have to be patient and have to slow down’

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

Barry Neufeld calls vote to leave him off liaison list ‘workplace discrimination’

Firm says trees obstructing vision at Humboldt Broncos crash intersection

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale

Man charged after B.C house fire triggers high-grade explosives

Thomas Daniel Kendall charged with causing bodily harm by failing to properly store explosives

Most Read