We’ve been traveling Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding countryside for twelve hours now and have returned for a quick break before we set off to a neighbourhood polling station to observe the closing of the polls and, if possible, the opening of the “traveling ballot box” that made the rounds to collect votes from the infirm yesterday, and then, again if possible, the final reporting of the count. We’ve been in 10 polling stations so far in very different neighbourhouds from downtown Ulaanbaatar to a ger district, to Nalaikh, a small coal-mining town 45 min outside of Ulaanbaatar, to Erdene Sum, a further 40km out in the country.
Very quick observations so far, bearing in mind that we only see a slice of the proceedings and surroundings as observers:
- the local election commissions have been going very strictly by the book
- unlike previous elections that I observed, my election monitor badge was checked and recorded several times
- when a voter needed a new ballot or something similar occurred, officials loudly announced this as well as the ensuing procedure.
- all proceedings are not only video-taped but that video feed is broadcast in the hallways of the polling station as well as on some roadsign screens
- party election observers were present everywhere and we also saw some domestic observers
- the registration system by fingerprint seemed to be very reliable. It was rare that officials would have to enter the number of identification papers to find a record. We saw the chip card very rarely, perhaps from 1 out of 20 voters
- we interviewed some voters near polling stations and they did not report anything untoward
- – the electronic voting machines also seemed to work well, though the two-sided Ulaanbaataar ballot (city election on one side, national election on the other) meant that a voter’s choices were quite visible depending on the positioning of the machine. Also, most voters expected some sort of feedback message after inserting their ballot (“Ballot Accepted!” or something of that sort) and were a bit puzzled by the lack of a “response”.