Kyrgyzstan Decides

 
 

Last week, Kyrgyzstan held elections to choose the entirely of its 120-member parliament — the Supreme Council or Jogorku Kengesh. Voters cast ballots for one of 14 parties running; according to preliminary results, six parties cleared the threshold to enter the next parliament. Official results won’t be released until October 24, but the election has been widely hailed as a success by both Western observers and observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States. In a region better known for autocrats and rubber-stamp parliaments elected in predetermined polls, Kyrgyzstan’s accomplishment stands out.

The OSCE applauded the election’s “lively campaign” and commented that voting was assessed positively at 95 percent of the polling stations observed. One of the OSCE’s main criticisms of the election, however, was related to the process: namely the biometric registration mandated in order for citizens to vote.

Photographer Tim Scott was in Bishkek on election day.

Kyrgyzstan Decides
Opening procedures at polling stations across the country began at 7:00 am and polls opened at 8:00 am. Women played a large role in the conduct of the election; here the chair of a Bishkek rural polling station meticulously explains all the steps required by law to monitors.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Domestic observers, both from the 14 parties running for parliamentary seats and from civic organizations such as Taza Shailoo (Clean Elections), were present to examine the equipment and the proceedings.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
A member of the polling station awaits instruction to start the ballot scanning box during the opening of the polling station.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
The first voters of the day arrive and domestic observers watch to see how the biometric scanners will exhibit the voter's face on the screen above.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
International election observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), composed of nine members from the former Soviet Union, were on hand to view the activities. Other international observers from Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) were present throughout the country.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Leading up to these elections, all voters were required to submit biometrics to the state -- fingerprints and photographs. In order to vote, voters had their fingers scanned to bring up their unique ID. If this was not successful, the voter could have their ID number entered into the system.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Upon receiving a slip from the ID check station, voters then had their names checked on a paper voters' list and signed that they had received a ballot.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
The ID photos of the last three voters were displayed on monitors along with the number of voters registered at this polling station and the number who had voted thus far.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Polling booths were angled so that observers and polling station workers could ensure no voter photographed their ballots, while still guaranteeing the secrecy of the vote.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Local and regional media frequented polling stations to document the election process. With biometric registration and electronic scanners newly introduced, there was great interest in the process.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
If electronic scanning ballot boxes were broken, polling stations were allowed to use standard transparent ballot boxes for voters to cast their ballots into.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Scanners frequently jammed. In this polling station, voting continued with a standard box for nearly an hour and half while they waited on technicians to arrive to fix the scanning equipment.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
Kyrgyzstan Decides
Voting continued for 12 hours, closing at 8:00 pm at over 2,400 polling stations across the country.
Image Credit: Tim Scott
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