For the first time, inmates from Prison No. 3 from Leova participated in the simulation of the voting process

For the first time in a Moldovan prison, an electoral education workshop for inmates was conducted. More than 50 people detained at Prison No. 3 from Leova participated in an information session and simulation of electoral processes. The initiative was of the Public Association “Prospect” from Cimislia and was carried out in partnership with the Central Electoral Commission.

The event takes place under the project "Strengthening democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections", implemented by UNDP Moldova, with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy in Chisinau through the Fund for Good Governance and the Embassy of the Netherlands through the Matra Program. The project is implemented in partnership with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the Center for Continuous Education in the Electoral Field (CCEEF).

"There has been no one to speak to us about the elections until now, except the day when we vote. Every vote counts! If I do not vote, someone else might do it for me and I do not want it. I vote firstly because I am a citizen of the country,” says Ruslan, inmate.

Ruslan was sentenced five years ago. At that time, he was a drug user. He managed to escape his addiction and has been volunteering for the last two years, trying to convince other inmates to give up drugs. He comes with advice, speaks to them through personal examples, and encourages them to fight with their addictions. And because he started enjoying helping his fellows, Ruslan is involved in other activities as well. He participated with much interest in the information workshop and even offered to play the role of an electoral officer during the simulation of the voting process.

Ruslan has still to serve two and a half years in prison. However, according to penitentiary employees, Ruslan is likely to be released on parole. So, Ruslan hopes that he will vote at the polling station near his home in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Another inmate, Andrei, who has still to serve ten years in prison, will exercise his right to vote in the penitentiary. Andrei is interested in the electoral process and political life in the country. He knew that the electoral system had changed, but he did not understand how the mandates of Members of Parliament are distributed on the uninominal constituencies. At the training conducted by the CEC and the Association “Prospect”, he understood the set-up.

"I learned about electoral procedures, but also other information I did not know about. Such an activity is organized for the first time. You should know that here, in the prison, on the elections day, we are being explained the procedures and the documents that we need to have to vote. In February I will vote again, this time being more informed,” says Andrei.

He is convinced that participation and involvement can make the future better: “I have been participating in elections since I was 18. I even participated here in the penitentiary. Voting is very important. I believe that even in prison I can change something by my vote and by my attitude. For example, if you do not want corruption in the country, you must be the one who does not offer bribe. Always around the election period, I talk about this with family, friends. I do it on the phone or when they come to visit me”.

The simulation of the voting process generated the greatest interest of the participants. "It was an interactive activity, they got involved and I think it was a very effective method to attract the attention of the participants and to make them interested in the topics discussed," noted Ion Unciuc, the head of the Social Reintegration Section at Prison No. 3 in Leova.

Thus, the inmates played the roles of members of the Electoral Bureau of the polling station with the mobile ballot box, operators checking the data in the identity cards, observers and voters. At the end, the situations were discussed and deciphered by the CEC team.

"I really had emotions because I spoke to such an audience for the first time. In the end, we have seen that the inmates are active, trained citizens who want to know more about the elections and what is happening on the elections day. We want all citizens of the Republic of Moldova to be involved in electoral processes, and for this, they need to be informed,” says Valentina Scobici, consultant in the Communication, Public Relations and Mass-media Department at CEC.  

Andrei Bargan, the president of Cimislia Public Association “Prospect”, is confident that such activities will boost civic activism: "I hope this exercise will enable them to be informed about the electoral processes and public life and vote. We aim that these citizens make use of their right to vote and to know their constitutional rights”.

The inmates from the Republic of Moldova participate in elections with the help of mobile ballot boxes. During voting, the prison administration provides them with the identity card kept in the personal file. Their vote, as of all citizens of the Republic of Moldova, is secret. More than 380 people are detained in Prison No. 3 from Leova.