ASTANA – Kazakhs went to the polls in record numbers for the country’s early presidential election, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the country has announced: 95.11 percent of the country’s registered voters had cast their ballots by the time polls closed at 8 p.m. local time and observers at the polling stations have reported no significant violations, the СEC said. Turnouts varied widely across the country and within cities, with long lines at some of Astana’s polling stations, while others remained relatively quiet.
“It was so crowded,” Zhanna Shorabekova, 29, who works at Astana’s Haileybury School, told The Astana Times. Shorabekova voted along with her whole family at polling station No. 52 in Astana. “Some people were cheerful and some were upset because they were not on the list. Luckily, I was on the list!” she said. “
“Everywhere there was music, and, as usual, we gave old people the chance to vote first,” public relations manager Botagoz Tanatova, 27, told this newspaper. Tanatova took a voting selfie, she commented, which she said was an election trend. Where she voted, at polling station No. 12 in Astana, there were long lines and people queuing outside, she said.
At 6 p.m., according to Tengrinews, the highest voter turnouts were in Akmola Oblast (94.81 percent) and Northern Kazakhstan Oblast (93.88 percent), though a number of regions had turnouts of more than 90 percent. The lowest turnouts at that time were in Almaty, with 73.17 percent voting, and Aktobe Oblast, with 85.05 percent (though being in western Kazakhstan, polls would close after they did in Astana, due to the time difference). Tengrinews updates have cited Central Election Commission members Marat Sarsembayev and Tatyana Okhlopkova, who have given regular updates during the day.
Newskaz.ru reported that votes are now being counted at all polling stations. “According to the electoral legislation of Kazakhstan, the counting of votes at a polling station should not exceed 12 hours from the closure of the polling stations. Tomorrow, after the receipt of the Central Election Commission of operational data, we will acquaint you with the preliminary results of voting at the early presidential elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” Central Election Commission deputy chair Vladimir Foos said after polls had closed around the country.
The election was observed by a total of 1,026 international observers from around 40 countries and include representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and other groups, as well as the foreign media, the CEC had announced before the election day.
All three candidates in this year’s election voted earlier in the day. Standing for election are incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev; Communist People’s Party candidate Turgun Syzdykov, who has campaigned on a return to traditional values and austerity; and self-nominated candidate Abelgazy Kussainov, who has said that he used the campaign to draw attention to environmental issues.
President Nazarbayev, who has ruled the country for 26 years and has won four elections so far, is widely expected to win this election. His campaign called repeatedly for Kazakhs to exercise their right to vote and take the opportunity to go to the polls today.