(Picture-with Election Partner Lorena)
My work in Ukraine has led to opportunities to participate in election observation missions in that country. The first picture is with my observation partner Lorena Fernandez Alvarez who lives in Spain. This was during the 2014 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Presidential election mission.
In 2010 I was selected to be part of a Canadian Mission for the Presidential election as a Short Term Observer. This means that you spend about ten days around Election Day in the country with a focus on getting a feel for the election environment and observing voting in several (10-12) polling stations during the day in whatever region you happen to have been sent.
In 2012 an opportunity arose to serve as a Long Term Election Observer, which entailed being in Ukraine for 3 months observing in two Oblasts (provinces). This was a fascinating experience as you get to meet politicians, candidates, election officers and visit many towns and cities and see the formation and operation of District Election Committees and Polling Election Committees.
It also afforded me opportunity to see first hand court challenges to many election infractions and disputes. It was a very rewarding and worthwhile experience.
This second picture is with the Oblast Governor for Rivne Oblast during the 2012 election mission.
Then in 2014 I was invited to participate in an OSCE election mission, once again as a Short Term Observer, in a Presidential Election after the ousting of the President elected in 2010.
The third picture shows me checking out a polling booth in one of the polling stations.
In 2012, after the election was over, I spent some time in Western Ukraine visiting some of my many Ukrainian friends in Uzhgorod. This picture is at the train station with two former colleagues Natalia and Nataly and her the husband.
We had time to visit a Ukrainian hot tub which actually a huge iron pot with a fire underneath to heat the water, it is some what akin to be boiled alive. After you are boiled you go outside and swim in a very cold stream.
I also visited Khudiaky, in Central Ukraine to spend time with my friend and former colleague Tanya Kudina and visited with her Mom and Dad.