WASHINGTON, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — A lack of staff and closed polling stations at early parliamentary elections in Ukraine pose problems of inadequate representation as the country moves forward, Professor Erik Herron of West Virginia University, who observed the elections in October with the CIFRA Group, said.
"The election that was held [in Ukraine] on October 26 was really a tremendous achievement. It was held under very difficult circumstances with some evidence of low-scale fraud but not widespread systemic fraud," Herron said at a Thursday event evaluating Ukraine's parliamentary vote, adding, however, that a fundamental problem during the elections was "that polling stations were not being fully operational".
The inability for many voters to participate means "there is a huge representational cost for the conflict in Donetsk and Lugansk that goes beyond the districts that were closed," Herron added.
Some districts were closed because they were not participating in the elections, but many were closed in areas that are not in close proximity to the conflict regions. In comparison to the number of polling stations open in the 2012 elections, less than 5 percent of the polling stations in Donetsk and Luhansk were operational on election day, according to data collected by CIFRA.
Ukraine held early parliamentary elections on October 26. Ukrainians went to the polls to vote for 423 members of parliament — 225 of them from party lists and 198 in single-candidate constituencies.
On November 2, the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) held their independent elections for the heads of local governments and representatives of legislative bodies. Ukraine's central authorities have refused to recognize the elections.
The conflict between Ukrainian authorities and independence supporters in the country's southeast escalated in mid-April, when Kiev launched a military operation against residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who refused to recognize the new government, which came to power as a result of the February coup.