January 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Mongolia: Election Observers: Cape Gazette: Mongolia RPCV David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: January 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Mongolia: Election Observers: Cape Gazette: Mongolia RPCV David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections

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Mongolia RPCV David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections

Mongolia RPCV David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections

Mongolia RPCV David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections

Lewes' David Bernheisel plays role in Ukraine elections
By Henry J. Evans Jr.

David Bernheisel flew halfway round the world to watch people vote. And he’ll do it again given the opportunity.

Bernheisel, 68, of Highland Acres in Lewes, monitored elections last week in the Ukraine as voters in that country returned to the polls for a second time to try to elect a president.

This time, American-backed presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko came out the winner, defeating Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych.

In the first election, the results were just the opposite.

In an election environment where violence is not uncommon – Yushchenko was poisoned and thousands of voters took to the street in a threatening protest of the first election results many thought fraudulent – Bernheisel and his colleagues kept an eye on things.

“In the polling stations I was in, I was very impressed to see how well they were run and organized and the lack of intimidation or that kind of thing,” he said following his return from Ukraine. He witnessed no reportable incidents, he said.

Bernheisel was one of 100 monitors from the United States, who joined others from Canada and Europe working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The group monitors elections in countries where the democratic process is new to citizens and where voting – real elections with voters making choices without intimidation – have never taken place.

Bernheisel has worked polling places in other less-than-stable political environments.

“The first one I did as an observer was in 2000 in Kosovo. Then I was back in Kosovo in 2001 as a poll supervisor,” he said. He also worked in the Azerbaijan presidential elections in 2002 as an election observer.

Former communist eastern block countries want election observers present, Bernheisel said.

“They want a stamp of approval on the elections. If no one were able to check, that would be a political statement,” he said.

Bernheisel worked for the federal government before taking an early retirement. Since retiring, he’s done a tour of duty in the Peace Corps along with his wife Mary, landing in Mongolia.

“That gives you a leg up on being selected for this kind of thing, that you’ve been in less than luxurious foreign conditions,” he said.

Bernheisel said he enjoys the travel involved with his volunteer work and can relate to a theme common in some country-western music.

“When the train whistle blows, my feet itch,” he said.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Cape Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; COS - Mongolia; Election Observers



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