Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner of India visits Uzbekistan as an International Observer for Presidential Elections (21 – 25 Oct 2021)

New Delhi : On the invitation of the Chairman, Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan, (CEC-U), Chief Election Commissioner of India, Sushil Chandra led a three member delegation to Uzbekistan in order to observe the conduct of Presidential elections held on October 24, 2021. This election, conducted under the new election code, was keenly watched by the international community.

The CEC of India and the Chairman, CEC of Uzbekistan Mr. Zainiddin M. Nizamkhodjaev held a bilateral meeting on electoral cooperation on October 21, 2021. The Chairman, CEC-U thanked  Chandra for accepting his invitation and also briefed him about the various measures taken for the conduct of this election including single electronic voters’ list, arrangements for in-person voting on poll day and early voting as well as covid safety arrangements. Sh. Chandra spoke about the recent conduct of elections in India and various avenues for further strengthening electoral ties between the two countries through signing of MoU on electoral cooperation and training and capacity building programs which ECI would be happy to organize for Uzbekistan election officials. Delegates from Uzbekistan have been avidly participating in ECI’s International Election Visitors Programmes (IEVP) organized during elections and officials from Uzbekistan have been attending training programs at ECI under the ITEC program.

Under the Uzbekistan Election law, the President is elected for a five year term from a single nationwide constituency. The election administration follows a three-tier structure comprised of the Central Election Commission, 14 District Election Commissions and 10,760 Precinct Election Commissions. Uzbekistan has an electorate of about 20 million. Each polling station caters to a maximum of 3000 voters. Early voting system was in place from October 14-20 and 421,618 people used the early voting facility including 120,524 from abroad.

Only registered political parties can nominate candidates to run in elections. Five candidates -four men and one woman candidate contested elections for the President of Uzbekistan. The campaign for elections is funded by the State. A number of infographics carrying photographs and information about the five candidates was displayed at prominent locations in Uzbekistan.

The Indian delegation visited the 7th and 14th District Election Commissions to obtain an overview of the electoral administration, procedures and initiatives of the CEC of Uzbekistan. Thereafter, they visited polling stations in Uzbekistan in order to observe the election process in detail. Various aspects of conduct of elections including voter lists, identification of voters, early voting mechanisms, arrangements for facilitation of the elderly and persons with disabilities, Covid safety protocols, polling station readiness and casting of vote by ballot paper were observed across different polling stations.

Presence of representatives of political parties/candidates and mahalla committees was noticed at polling booths. Voters were identified through passports or driving license document. A count of voters including First time voters and those voting from home was being maintained. Hourly reports of voter turnout were being sent to CEC electronically.

Sushil Chandra took this opportunity to interact with the Officials of the Indian Embassy led by the Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan,  Manish Prabhat and briefed them about the Electronic Transfer of Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) facilities for voting by service voters. This was followed by a very active and vibrant interaction on Indian elections with the representatives of Non-Resident Indian community based in Tashkent.