There was an election today in Belarus and even before voting started there were claims of fraud. Interestingly, the fraud was not in the voting or the vote counting; instead, the state completely controlled the media in the election, ensuring that opposition party members either received no publicity or negative publicity and the ruling party received glowing reports. For example, this is what the NY Times reported today:
State television, meanwhile, offered hours of pro-government fare, including a series of interviews with analysts and observers, including a few Westerners, who praised the conduct of the campaign and the voting today. One observer, who said he was British, said, “There are several things that Great Britain could borrow from Belarus and use for its elections.”
Later, as votes were being counted, state television showed unflattering pictures and video of the opposition and its supporters, including photographs of the several youth organizers from a Russian opposition party who came to Belarus to support the opposition here. The men were shirtless, drinking and smoking what appeared to be marijuana. This was followed by video of two transvestites engaged in a passionate kiss, and a suggestion from the news presenter that the opposition has the support of homosexuals.
NPR also noted that arresting and beating up opposition campaigners and candidates tends to promote a win by the incumbents.
ABC News reported that: The elections commission said 81 percent of the 7 million eligible voters had cast ballots by noon, clearing the 50 percent mark needed to make the election valid. Yermoshina said about 30 percent voted last week in early balloting, which is seen by the opposition as especially vulnerable to fraud.
Those of you who know Mike and I also know we love cool pictures of voting. The BBC has a set of election photos that illustrate the voting process, complete with food and vodka!