Stories of observers who worked on extraordinary presidential elections

in Kazakhstan on June 9, 2019.

Kulyash
Since March 2019, like many other Kazakhstanis, I have been closely following the political life of the country in connection with the upcoming extraordinary presidential elections in Kazakhstan. I wanted to be a civic activist and take part in the election process and when I learned about the recruitment of observers from the Erkindik qanaty Foundation, I decided that this was exactly the opportunity to make a contribution.

Comparing the work of observers from the Foundation with observers from other candidates and public associations, I can say that "Erkindik qanaty" is one of the few organizations that really prepared people. It was interesting and fun to come to the trainings because in addition to the very functions and rights of observers we were working on different (even the most incredible) situations that could have happened during the elections. On the very day X Lena, Roman and Aigerim were constantly in touch and helped us to sort out controversial situations.

At my polling station I was the most knowledgeable in the electoral law, and this is actually sad. I had to defend my rights on heightened tones and, despite the fact that there were other observers at the polling station besides me, most of them never even got up from the chairs that stood in the corner of the office where the voting took place. But on the whole I was lucky with the polling station - I drew up only one act, after which the commission members finally began to carefully check each voter for the presence in the lists. It was a nervous and stressful day, but I am very glad that I took part in it.

I am grateful to the Foundation for the opportunity to be an observer and for their responsible approach to this difficult task. I hope that in the next elections (both parliamentary and presidential) there will be more observers, because they are the ones who ensure a transparent electoral process.
Beimbet
As a child and a teenager, I always imagined how cool it was to vote in elections. You go to the polling station with an important view, take the ballot, tick the box and proudly throw it into the ballot box.

The presidential election of 2019 was for me the first time that I could participate. The political situation in the country forced me to give up my childhood dream of voting as a responsible citizen, and I decided to become an observer. I didn't know much about election observation and didn't even expect to become an observer myself, but since the beginning of the announcement of the elections my entire information field was filled with the subject of the upcoming voting. I hesitated for a long time because I was not sure that I would be able to withstand such a load. Only by the end of May I made up my mind and filled in the questionnaire from PF "Erkindik qanaty". Observers gathered and explained the process of elections from beginning to end. If you study the electoral legislation and the Constitution, the preparation does not take much time.

On election day I stayed at the polling station for about 20 hours. Having witnessed gross violations and pressure from the polling station commission, I was filled with confidence and strength. The commission's ignorance of the law, their pressure, attempt to put me in a "special place for observation" and inquiries about my life tested my psychological firmness. Yes, it was an energy-consuming, exhausting experience that requires a lot of resources from the observer. 20 hours of observation, 2 total hours of video footage, 20 minutes of lunch, 4 acts of violations of electoral legislation, 2 powerboats, 2 bananas and a bank of energy drink. The experience of observation was the main event of 2019 and one of the highlights of life.

I thank "Erkindik qanaty" for this opportunity and support. I ask readers of these lines to continue to be observers or to become observers. In this way we bring enormous benefits to the development of our country.
Dastan
Last year's spring (2019) was marked by different worries for Kazakhstanis. Many people, who were apolitical, woke up instantly. Among these people, there was also me. When I heard about the upcoming presidential election, I realized that I don't want to stay aside. While I was making up my mind, I almost missed training sessions for observers. I remember how on the last day I filled out an application for training from PF "Erkindik qanaty".

When we analyzed the law and different cases during the pre-election preparation, I felt that I could bring some changes to the country. The day before the election we had to register at our polling station and it is difficult to say that I was glad to be there. The day had come. This was the day when changes were supposed to happen for the first time since the country's independence. As it turned out, other observers at my polling station were well acquainted with both the commission members and the chairman.

A few hours later I realized that they lived in this retirement home, where the station in Almaty was located. The hymn was played and the elections began. But ten minutes earlier than it was supposed to be. By the way, we also closed by noon. I did not want to inflame the situation from the very morning and just recorded everything that was happening. In a couple of hours, several violations had already been recorded. I was very much surprised by the commission's question "Should it be like that?" when I made a comment that the ballots should be signed.

The most interesting thing started after I warned that such ballots are not considered valid. They scared me by the police and wanted to expel me, and the chairman of the commission began to switch to a person, spoke about my bad education and at the end added: "Who did you come from? Whose victory do you want? Do you think you can change the system?". For their paradigm, my desire to have a fair election was outrageous. After a few hours of threats and personal transition, I started calling Foundation's employees. Then the coordinator for Almaty and a colleague from another foundation came to my polling station. We were fighting for ballots that ended up in an unsigned ballot box. At the moment of receiving the protocol, I was raging with different feelings: joy, regret, bitterness, anger and gratitude. But I also felt that the system had given a crack.

I am glad that I experienced all this, saw everything with my own eyes and fulfilled my civic duty. I want to thank you for the fact that Erkindik qanaty gave me this opportunity.
Zhanar
In June 2019, I was an independent observer at the
Extraordinary presidential elections for the first time in my life. It was very exciting: I understood how much responsibility I had for my work. In addition, it was my first experience of civic engagement. After observation I understood that the voice, rights and opportunities of the people are much bigger and more significant than we imagine them. Unfortunately, on the other hand, I felt the injustice of the system and the fear of my ordinary fellow citizens. Therefore, I want to say to my people, power is not the government and officials, power is all of us!
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