This year’s presidential election is special not only because of the record number of candidates. In 2019, for the first time, the Central Electoral Commission is using the ProZorro system to procure everything necessary for the elections. We decided to take a look how the CEC spent UAH 282 million for ballots, boxes, protection against cyber attacks, airtime for campaigning and other things.
Ballots and Their Transportation
The biggest expenditure item was printing the ballots, which cost UAH 165 million. As usual, it was the state-owned enterprise Printing Industrial Complex Ukraina that was tasked with printing.
Ballots are printed on paper with 10 levels of protection. They contain special paint, microtext, invisible writing. This type of ink does not exist anywhere else in the world, and the manufacturing company will be able to sell it only after the elections are over.
Overall, the CEC is expected to commission printing of 60 million ballots. One ballot costs UAH 4.26.
Earlier, procurement of this number of ballots caused an outcry in the media, because certain candidates claimed it would enable electoral fraud, since the number of ballots significantly exceeds the number of voters. However, the CEC explained they had to take into account pricing for both election rounds, because the public procurement legislation does not take into account the special nature of election-related procurement, when goods, works or services have to be procured very fast. For instance, the final list of candidates can be ready no more than 22 days before the vote, and the open bidding procedure in ProZorro takes a month and a half.
Another challenge for the CEC was transportation of the ballots. An amount of UAH 14 million was allocated for this, and the Law on Public Procurement should have obliged the CEC to announce competitive bidding. However, the CEC decided to entrust this task to a verified supplier – State Enterprise of Special Communications. They broke down the tender to conclude 194 direct agreements with the preferred supplier for the amounts of UAH 50,000-UAH95,000 each for transportation of ballots to local stations, and one agreement for UAH 199,000 to transport ballots to foreign polling stations.
After votes have been calculated, the ballots are delivered from polling stations to regional electoral commissions. The ballots are transported in special cardboard boxes. To organize this delivery, in January, the CEC announced a tender, but it failed because of participant disqualification. Since there was no time left to organize another competitive tender, the CEC asked regional electoral commissions to procure the boxes by themselves.
Airtime for campaigning is the second most expensive expenditure item for the elections.
The Ukrainian public broadcasting company UA: Suspilne received UAH 19 million. Each candidate had an opportunity to advertise himself or herself on the national channel twice, 15 minutes each time. The airtime can be used both for a live speech and for a pre-recorded campaign video. One minute of TV debate airtime costs UAH 4,700. If the candidate does not show up to a live screening, the CEC does not pay the TV channel.
People who are not sure about their candidate can read posters with information on each candidate at the polling stations. 2.9 million posters were printed, with UAH 8 million paid for them. The price of one A1 poster with candidates’ photos is UAH 2.76. Each polling station receives two posters about each candidate.
UAH 520,000 was paid for printing the candidates’ policies in newspapers Uriadovyi Kurier and Holos Ukrainy.
UAH 1.3 million of the national budget was spent to provide each polling station with three copies of the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of the President of Ukraine.” One such book cost UAH 14. The CEC planned to spent much more on this printing, but there were five participants bidding in ProZorro, which helped to get it twice as cheap. An old printing house in Kyiv also won two other tenders by the CEC ahead of the elections: delivery of ballots for UAH 14 million and printing of information posters about the candidates for UAH 8.3 million.
There are small portable boxes at each polling station. The CEC purchased 1129 such boxes from private entrepreneur Vita Malik for UAH 1.9 million. The box where you’ll be casting your vote costs UAH 1751. To provide additional warranties in the event of possible electoral fraud, 475,000 seals were purchased: two for each box and three more per polling station just in case.
Protection from Hackers
To update and maintain the system Presidential Elections in Ukraine, the CEC recruited 22 programmers, 3 managers and 4 database administrators from the Medyrent company. It paid UAH 15.6 million through the negotiations procedure.
CEC servers are protected from Russian DDoS attacks using the software from the company Soft Production for UAH 4.1 million. The same amount is spent to protect the system State Voter Registry from viruses and other cyber attacks. UAH 8 million was paid for the system of election data preservation.
What Oblast Electoral Commissions Buy
Apart from the CEC, oblast electoral commissions procured everything else necessary for elections. As of 27 March, 59 out of 199 commissions reported on their procurement through ProZorro, having spent UAH 14.6 million. One local electoral commission spent from UAH 9,600 (No. 49 procured only postal services) to UAH 1.3 million (No. 64).
Here are some items that oblast electoral commissions procure:
– fuel for transportation of documents
– transportation services, including taxi
– yellow and dark blue silk fabric for voting booths
– booths for secret votes
– publications in newspapers
Other Small Items
– UAH 7.2 million was spent on 3 million various documents – protocols, reports etc. Each polling station will receive 75 protocols for calculating the votes. If the second round takes place, another UAH 3.1 million will be spent on the protocols.
– Packages with a special protective system to transport protocols for UAH 365,000. If the package is unsealed, a special note appears saying that the package was opened. It cannot be removed.
– Stamps for the amount of UAH 6.9 million, with the average stamp costing about UAH 230.
– Plastic name tags for commission members cost UAH 129,000, UAH 3 to 6 each.