Thursday, November 04, 2004

In Other Election News

Cross your fingers for Ukraine. The reformist challenger Yuschenko won the first round, though you won't hear the authorities say so. He's closed the gap and is officially behind the pro-government candidate by less than 1%, but the vote counting from the final precincts is suddenly slowed to a halt. Not coincidentally, those final precincts are in Yuschenko-strong districts.

How could they have let him come so close? I like to think that the massive presence of observers prevented the type of widespread electoral fraud that Yanukovych needed to make a dominant showing. But perhaps, he's just saving all that for round 2.

But deep in Yanukovych territory, where I was deployed, in every polling station I visited, there were observers from opposition parties that stayed put all day. They would come up to us when we came in, and let us know if everything had been okay, and let us know if somebody had been telling voters what to do, and even let us know that the nearby beer hut had a campaign poster still up. These are brave people, they're wearing their affiliation in bright orange badges on their chests, and when I say that the massive presence of observers made the difference, I mean them—not us.


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