ASTANA – “As of 12 p.m. [Astana time], 41.69 percent of registered voters have voted,” Central Electoral Commission (CEC) member Tatyana Okhlopkova announced to the media shortly after one o’clock on April 26, Kazakhstan’s election day.
As the day progresses, long queues have begun shaping inside and in front of polling stations in the Kazakh capital and elsewhere in the country, as numerous tweets and other social media posts confirm.
Some regions saw more than half of their registered voters cast ballots by noon, including Almaty Oblast (with 60.68 percent voting by noon), Kostanai Oblast (56.57 percent), and Akmola Oblast (51.01 percent). Other places had a noticeably lower turnout, including the city of Almaty, where only 17.25 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots by midday, and the capital itself, where 25.46 percent had.
According to CEC Secretary Bakhyt Meldeshev, the voting process is progressing calmly and transparently, following the laws of Kazakhstan.
“The observers have all the necessary conditions for unhindered monitoring of the voting process at all stages of the election today,” he said.
A Ministry of Defence press release claims that the first citizens of Kazakhstan to vote were the members of the Armed Forces’ taekwondo team. The team is in Seoul, South Korea, for an international competition, and cast their votes at the Kazakh Embassy there.
Among those who voted in the morning were all three candidates running in this election.
Incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev voted around 11 a.m. at polling station No. 81 in the National Palace of Schoolchildren in Astana.
“Today [the voters] have a choice about their future. [They can] manifest their assessment of the functioning of the government, including my own service in this period, and set tasks for the future. I am confident that the people will vote for their future, a future for their children and for a prosperous Kazakhstan. I am certain of that,” he told the media waiting for his comments at the polling station.
The candidate also thanked international observers and media representatives for their active involvement in the electoral process.
“If the people of Kazakhstan entrust me again [to serve as the president], then, naturally, my first step will be to create a commission on implementing the five institutional reforms that I have announced,” Nazarbayev said.
He added that this will be a “huge and complicated” task, which will require amendments to the legislation and possibly to the country’s constitution.
The other two candidates, Turgun Syzdykov of the Communist People’s Party and self-nominated candidate Abelgazy Kussainov, head of the Federation of Trade Unions, voted earlier in the day.
Kussainov and his wife cast their ballots at polling station No. 98 in downtown Astana, while Syzdykov voted at polling station No. 32 on the right bank of the capital’s Yessil River.
Voting in eastern Kazakhstan will continue until 8. p.m. Astana time, while polling stations in the country’s six western oblasts will close one hour later because of the time difference.
Voters in Kazakh diplomatic posts to the west will be able to vote until 8 p.m. local time. Up to 20,000 Kazakh citizens are expected to vote at 65 polling stations at the nation’s diplomatic posts around the world.
According to the CEC, Kazakhstan has a total of 9,514,988 adult citizens eligible to vote at one of 9,741 polling stations established for the election, in which 69,755 members of electoral commissions of all levels will be engaged in organising the voting and counting ballots.