Archive for July, 2009

Moldovan journalists document election fraud

Yesterday, Moldova went to vote. Again. The election was a repeat of the vote in April. Already today, however, the morning following the second attempt, some observers are wondering: How comes, that the exit polls yesterday showed only 41 percent of support for the ruling communist party, while today’s first counts show 58 percent?

Following the April vote the 4, 3 million populations living between the EU member state Romania on one side and the Ukraine on the other, experienced heavy riots, arrests of journalists and numerous European headlines. Do we know much about that part of the world? Should we be interested? Well, we should. After all, Moldova is a direct neighbor to the EU.

How comes, curious Moldavians asked after the April election, that all of a sudden the electorate had grown by 800.000 voters? No explanations really seemed to fit. Had the usual death rate decreased significantly since the last election? Had there been produced several hundred thousand extra identity cards for voters?

Journalists Lilia Gurez and Igor Volnitchi wanted to know. They both work for Moldovan media, but in order to document at least some of the fraud, they needed a bit of extra time and they needed money to travel around the country. They turned to Scoop, a Danish aid project giving work grants to investigative journalists, applied for a work stipend and started their research. And they published a significant article lifting the April allegations to a concrete level and giving the fraud victims human faces.

The team looked into double voter id-numbers – where only one physical person was to be found. Coincident? They found numerous votes cast by Moldavians living abroad. They followed up on allegedly dead voters. They met people who were angry, when they were told, that their identity was used in another part of the country too. They gathered evidence on how mentally ill patients were lead to the ballot boxes. They found voting boxes, where the obligatory minutes of the procedure, that are supposed to be put in the boxes as documentation by the officials at the end of the day, simply were lacking.

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