On the elections of the President of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the velayat, etrap, city Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes, as well as on the referendums are used ballots. The voting procedure with ballots is regulated in accordance with Article 70 of the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan.
Ballots are printed on the state language, and also on the basis of the request of the respective etrap, city with etrap rights election commissions, in order to ensure the electoral rights of citizens, additional guarantees for their participation in the voting process, if necessary, can be printed not only on the state language, but also on language used by the majority of voters of the polling station.
And also, for citizens with low vision who have the right to vote, it can be printed special ballots in braille.
The total number of ballots for elections and referendums must be printed as much as the number of voters on the voter list. The number of ballots printed for reserve should not exceed two percent of the total.
Ballots are printed by state printing houses according to the pattern approved by the Central Commission for holding elections and referendums in Turkmenistan (hereinafter the Central Election Commission) on the basis of an official order of the relevant election commission.
Expenses for printing ballots are financed from the State budget and centralized payment, in accordance with the budget for the preparation and organization of elections and referendums, is provided by the Central Election Commission.
The relevant higher election commission, which organized the printing of ballots, issues them to the lower election commissions on the basis of the act. Ballots are brought to the election commission ten days before the day of the elections or referendum.
Ballots are the strict reporting documents. Precinct election commissions recount them and check their integrity. The procedure for the preparation, delivery and reporting of ballots is determined by the Central Election Commission.
When ballots are delivered to the relevant election commission, their safety is ensured.
After delivering to the polling station, the ballots are stored in an iron safe in the building of the precinct election commission, and duty is organized.
The text and type of ballots unambiguously affect to the results of elections and referendums, the will of voters on Election Day and referendum participants.
Based on this, familiarization, filling out, voting of the ballot paper should be clear, convenient and easy.
In our country, on the elections and referendums are taken relevant measures to protect against falsification (fake) of ballots. More precisely, it should be noted that during printing, for their manufacture, they use various methods of increasing the degree of protection - watermarks, a peculiar color of paper, symbols and others.
In our country, it has been gathered positive experience to ensure the protection of ballots. Evidence of this - types of ballots produced for holding elections of the President of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes.
In connection with the holding of elections with various levels on the same day, the ballots printed for each election differs in their color and numbers of constituencies.
The ballots on the elections of deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan are white; therefore, the numbers and names of constituencies corresponding to them are inscribed in them.
The ballots on the elections of members of the velayat Halk maslahaty are light green; therefore they indicate the number of the constituency of the corresponding territory.
The ballots on the elections of members of the etrap Halk maslahaty are yellowish; therefore, they indicate the number of the constituency of the corresponding territory.
The ballots on the elections to members of Gengeshes are white and depending to the territory, the upper right corner is marked with the number of the constituency, and also has a different color.
In accordance with the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, all candidates registered in the constituency are included to the ballot paper. It indicates the surname (in alphabetical order), name, and patronymic, place of work, position (profession) and place of residence of each candidate.
The text of the ballot paper of the national referendum is approved by the Central Election Commission and the local referendum by the election commission of the city in the etrap, settlement, gengeshlik no later than thirty days before the referendum.
The wording of the referendum issue in the ballot paper and the options of the will of the participant voting in the referendum are marked “for” or “against”.
The information entered to the ballot paper is filled only on the one hand. And on the back of the ballot, the chairman and secretary of the precinct election commission affix their signature, as well as the seal of the polling station.
So, the precinct election commission prepares ballots before the Election Day. The election commission is responsible for the safety of ballots.
The ballots of the relevant elections after printing, in the event of the retirement of one of the candidates included in it, the election commission, which registered the candidate will adopt a decree about the marking of the ballot. Based on the decree of the higher election commission, the precinct election commission crosses out on the ballot, with a straight oblique line, information about the retired candidate.
Here, the surname, first name, patronymic, place of work, position (profession), place of residence and the foursquare mark opposite the surname of the retired candidate are crossed out.
The line is drawn with a pen with blue ink and should not touch the area of information about other candidates.
During the voting, members of the precinct election commission issuing the ballot to voters, notify the voter about the mark made on the ballot.
With the aim of organized conduction of voting, the chairman of the precinct election commission on the day of elections and referendums decides which of the members of the commission will issue ballots to voters.
When voting at a polling station, the precinct election commission issues to voters ballots based on the voters list after presentation of a passport or other identification document.
The voter, who received the ballot, is signed on the voters list. Voter fills out a ballot paper in the polling-booth.
On the elections, the voter marks on the ballot paper on the foursquare opposite the name of the candidate for whom he votes, and in referendums, depending on the issue, on the foursquare opposite the inscriptions “for” or “against”.
In accordance with measures, to ensure the secrecy of the ballot, the voter lowers the completed ballot paper to the ballot box when folded.
During the voting, by the request of the voter, a new ballot will be issued to him for the place of the spoiled ballot. Here, spoiled ballots are subject to registration, redemption and separate storage.
In accordance with Article 74 of the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, on the basis of a voter’s appeal, on Election Day when securing voting outside the polling station, the number of ballots issued to voting members of the precinct election commission is indicated in the extract from the general list of voters.
Here, because of the strict reporting of ballots, in the extract from the general list of voters, the total number of taken, used or damaged and returned ballots is indicated in numbers and in words.
Members of the precinct election commission are entitled to give the ballot paper to voters, which voting outside the polling station, only if their applications are registered.
After the completion of voting on the elections and referendums, when counting votes at a polling station and because of the impossibility of adding a ballot to any of the ballots of candidates, in case of doubt in reality, the precinct election commission determines its decision by voting. Here, this ballot paper is shown to all members of the commission by the chairman of the precinct election commission.
In accordance with Article 75 of the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, the following ballots are considered invalid:
- ballots that differ from the sample established by the Central Election Commission;
- if a ballot paper is marked with the name of more than one candidate;
- if no mark is made;
- if a vote is cast on the ballot paper on the Election Day for the candidate who left before Election Day ;
- if the surname is additionally added to the ballot paper;
- if the ballot paper does not contain the signatures of the chairman and secretary of the precinct election commission, and there is also no seal of the polling station.
It should be noted that if the ballot is torn and it is not possible to determine which candidate was cast, then this ballot may also be invalidated.
Ballot papers declared invalid are also subject to counting and storage in a separate paper envelope. The paper envelope must bear the inscription - invalid ballots - and their quantity must be indicated in words and the seal of the polling station must be affixed.
After completion of voting process, before the opening of ballot boxes, the precinct election commission counts the number of all unused and damaged ballots and extinguishes them.
Ballot papers are suppressed by cutting along the bottom mark of the left corner.
The canceled ballots are kept in a paper envelope. The paper envelope must bear the inscription - canceled ballots - their quantity must also be indicated and the polling station stamped.
After the official announcement of the election results, ballots are delivered to the relevant etrap, city election commissions and stored there for up to two months.
After the recognition of the powers of the President of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the velayat, etrap city Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes, local working groups formed during elections burn the ballots after two months.
A ballot paper is one of the main election documents. And that is why its correct filling is very important. In this regard, it should be emphasized separately that in our country’s democratic elections, through the preparation of videos explaining the procedure of filling out ballots, preparing visual aids and delivering them to the masses through television, all conditions are created so that voters can use their voting rights.
Chief specialist of the Organizational department of Central Commission
for holding elections and referendums in Turkmenistan.