Vote recount reveals suspected election fraud

  • 2008-10-29
  • By TBT staff
VILNIUS - Following a surprise result in the recount of a parliamentary seat in the election run-offs, Chairman of the Central Electoral Committee Zenonas Vaigauskas has approached the Prosecutor General's Office over the possible forgery of results for the Seskine district of Vilnius.
While this has become the most high profile case of fraud in the Oct. 26 run-off elections, it is just one of seven cases now under investigation by the Prosecutor General's Office after the second round of elections.
Vaigauskas' representative told The Baltic Times that the law required a recount because the difference between the two candidates was less than 50 votes.

"We can see that the results are different and very shocking," said Inga Melasute, Vaigauskas' representative.
"We have asked the General Prosecutor to find the reason for this. We, the Central Election Commission, are not responsible for the order surrounding the election 's that is the job of the police. But we do know that the results have changed," she said.
When TBT went to press, the exact result of the recount was unknown, although it was not expected to significantly change the outcome of the election.
The Seskine case is the latest to be investigated.

"None of these incidents will have a significant effect on the election result and it is comparatively small if you look at last year's Vilnius municipal government elections, where there were over 30 cases," Vilma Zemaityte, Chief Specialist of Public Relations at the Prosecutor General's Office said.
The seven cases include alleged bribery, slander of candidates before voting, forged ballots, the theft of an election official's handbag and an aggressive altercation with a man who claimed to be disabled and was not released without returning his ballot paper.

Zemaityte admitted that while there were seven cases currently under investigation, many more would likely have been reported to police. The police filter reports before submitting them for investigation.
After a recount of the votes in the second round of the parliamentary elections at the Seskine district in Vilnius, a small gap in votes resulted in member of the Homeland Union - Christian Democratic Party, Audronius Azubalis, being elected instead of current Social Security and Labor Minister Vilija Blinkeviciute, a member of the Social Democratic Party.

Azubalis said that after the recount he is ahead of Blinkeviciute by 56 votes 's meaning there are now over 80 additional votes in favor of the conservative.
This information was confirmed by Vaigauskas, who said he had been given it over the phone, but had not seen the votes count report yet.
Vaigauskas said that the district committee is blaming the constituency committees for the erroneous results. The constituency committees are also claiming innocence, blaming the district committee.
According to the Penal Code, erroneous vote counting entails a penalty that extends from community service to a fine or two years imprisonment.

Blinkeviciute was elected to the parliament in a multi-mandate district under a party list, in which she was placed first after ratings had been updated.
There have also been recounts in three other districts, but results remained unchanged.