Support fair elections in Ukraine

Given the current political turmoil in Ukraine, now is an important time to support democracy in the country. I have volunteered to serve as an International Election Observer for Ukraine's upcoming Presidential and Municipal Elections on May 25th, 2014, and I ask for your support. Financial support is appreciated, but even more important, I aim to raise awareness of the issues facing Ukraine today and provide a way for you to get involved. Please give what you can, regardless of the amount, and please let others know you are sponsoring a monitor to uphold the democratic process for this election in Ukraine.

Regardless of the questionable referendum that took place in Crimea last month attempting to justify Russian annexation of the territory, democratic values can still be upheld in Ukraine through the support of individuals and organizations like you.

This will be my fourth tour as an Election Observer in Ukraine. I first volunteered in the city of Poltava for the first round of Presidential elections on Oct. 31, 2004; then again for Parliamentary elections on March 26, 2006, serving in the city of Sumy; and then again in 2007 for repeat Parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, that time in the city of Zaporozhe. I volunteered through the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), and worked alongside Election Observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), RNC and DNC (US Republican and Democratic National Committees), and UCC (Ukrainian Canadian Congress).

Each time I volunteered, my ability to serve was made possible by financial donations from people like you.

In 2007, my team of Election Observers in the city of Zaporozhe was three people and initially we had only one car. Once on site, I coordinated with representatives from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) who had connections with a local university. Through teamwork, and because of financial support, I was able to hire an additional car with a driver who happened to be a fourth-year student in the local Police Academy, and also hire a local law student/journalist who served as translator (and wrote for the local university newspaper). 

As a team we worked locally both before elections and on Election Day. We met with local party and media representatives before the election, as well as local stationary observers on Election Day. Thanks to financial support, we were able to double the coverage our team could provide, visiting more than 15 polling stations on Election Day that wouldn't have otherwise had an international presence. Our coverage particularly focused on voting populations who were vulnerable to outside pressures and manipulation, such as polling stations in hospitals, prisons, universities, rural locations, industrial and military centers, as well as mobile house-to-house voting for the homebound. Together, through your funding, we were able to work more effectively and provide a greater presence as an international team supporting democracy in Ukraine.

Please donate what you can, and please tell others that you're getting involved and sponsoring a monitor for this upcoming election in Ukraine.

Thank you for your consideration,

-Mike Dockhorn

Above photo was taken in Zaporozhe, 2007, and shows Ukrainians voting at a university polling station where military conscripts had also been registered.

Responses to Your Questions and Comments

Hi Judy,
Yes they have used paper ballots each time I've gone and I expect them to be using paper ballots, counted by hand, again this time. I will have more detail once I'm there for pre-election briefings, and I would be happy to send reports with photos to all my supporters during the election.

Photo below of the vote count in 2007 (my translator/law student is the young man to the right of the ballot reader)

Several people have asked about my safety, please see my response below.

I began covering elections in Ukraine 10 years ago during the lead up to the Orange Revolution December, 2004. The atmosphere was tense then so the condition is not unfamiliar. My role is not necessarily to prevent or confront voting fraud, but more to observe and support fair elections, the people running polling stations and counting the vote, as well as the electorate in general. I report on violations and/or concerns witnessed personally or reported by local stationary observers.

With regard to safety, in the past I have hired drivers with Police or military training. Despite attempts at intimidation, I have never been concerned about my safety. I do however take measures to protect friends and loved ones who live there and are vulnerable to retaliation, mainly by distancing myself from them. This is an unfortunate reality in the fight against corruption.

Safely is the top priority, and I will not be put into harms way. My first destination is the capital, so as long as it is safe in Kyiv, I will go. I have not yet received my city assignment so my final destination is still TBD. However, the UCCA has made the desission not to send observers to Donetsk or Luhansk oblasts due to safety concerns so unfortunately those will not be an option for this election but hopefully will be in the future. The destinations I requested when I registered last month were Dnipropetrovs'k or Odeasa. Though given the recent events in Odeasa, that may not be an option either but I'm optimistic. I will keep you all posted as I receive my assignment, which will be subject to change depending on current circumstance. But more than anything, please rest assured that my safety will come first.

I have received my city assignment and will be observing in Dnipropetrovsk. I visited there 20 years ago, in 1994, and look forward to seeing how the city has changed.
Thank you again for all the support.
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Michael Dockhorn 
Philadelphia, PA
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