Polls opened on Tuesday in Belarus for early voting in the election for the House of Representatives. The main voting day is November 17.
A total of 5,832 polling stations have been opened for the election.
Any voter may cast a ballot early and is not required to produce proof of their inability to vote on the main voting day. Independent election observers say that conscript soldiers, students and employees of state-owned companies and government-funded organizations are compelled on a large scale to vote early.
The share of voters who cast their ballots early rose from 25.9 percent in the 2012 parliamentary election to 31.3 percent in the House of Representatives election in 2016, according to an election monitoring group called Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections.
“In fact early voting has become the norm, which is inconsistent with the requirements of the Electoral Code,” said the group. “One should know that voting in an election is a right and not a duty, and each citizen should decide independently when and for what person they should vote.”
The group urged members of the public to report violations of electoral regulations during the five-day early voting period.