On March 31, a presidential election took place in Ukraine.

There were 39 candidates, a record number, but the main battle was between the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, political veteran and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and political satirist and actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a newcomer running his first-ever race for a public office. None of the candidates are likely to win the majority of the votes, which means that the two candidates with the most votes will compete in the runoff on April 21. Check out our election guide.

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The Central Election Commission is counting the votes: See the latest results.

This post is being updated during the day, adding the latest developments.

April 1, 11:25 p.m — Ukraine public broadcaster Suspilne invited Zelenskiy and Poroshenko to a debate. The two didn’t participate in the March 28 television debates.

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April 1, 11:04 p.m. — With almost all of the votes counted, Zelenskiy has 30.22 percent and Poroshenko has 15.94 percent.

April 1,  6:42 p.m. — With over 90 percent of the votes counted, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s result has dipped below 16 percent (it’s now at 15.98 percent). However, there are ways fair and foul that he could still win, writes Kyiv Post Chief Editor Brian Bonner.

April 1,  5:35 p.m. — It seems Poroshenko won the Kyiv Metro vote: The polling stations nearer metro stations (in districts with higher rents) more likely went to the president. In Kyiv overall, the vote was split between them (27.13%, 25.52%)

 

April 1,  4:00 p.m. — As expected, no pro-Russian candidate made it into the second round of the presidential election, but the Kremlin can still stir up trouble for Ukraine.

April 1,  3:33 p.m. — Some numbers that will worry the Poroshenko camp: The supporters of the candidates who have been knocked out mainly favor Zelenskiy over the incumbent president, a recent poll showed.

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April 1,  3:28 p.m. — Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in an interview that there had been no serious incidents or disorder during the presidential elections.

April 1,  1:04 p.m. — Election watchdog Opora, revealing the results of its parallel vote count, has largely confirmed exit poll results and declared the first round of the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections broadly competitive. Read our report here.

April 1, 11:53 a.m. — Far-right candidate Ruslan Koshulynskiy won just 1.65 percent of the vote. While the far-right is loud and prominent in Ukraine, it still does dismally in the polls.

April 1, 11:33 a.m. — The biggest loser of the first round is former State Fiscal Service head Roman Nasirov, currently under trial for corruption, who has got just 1,734 votes so far, or 0.01 percent of the vote.

April 1, 11:24 a.m. — More data from the Central Election Commission: Zelenskiy got highest support in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast — 45.22 percent. Lowest was in Lviv Oblast — 11.85 percent. Second-place Poroshenko got highest support in Lviv Oblast — 36.55 percent. Lowest support for incumbent was in Luhansk Oblast — 7.78 percent.

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April 1, 10:57 a.m. — Election watchdog Opora says there were fewer election violations than in 2014. According to the Interior Ministry, 2,199 complaints of violations were received during Election Day.

April 1, 10:35 a.m. — First sign of Poroshenko’s main tactic for second round? Official presidential Twitter account quotes president basically accusing Zelenskiy of being a sock puppet of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

 

April 1, 9:56 a.m. — Ukrainians abroad gave victory to incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, the Central Election Commission has reported: with 96.03 percent of the ballots counted, Poroshenko got 38.26 percent, followed by Volodymyr Zelenskiy with 26.53. Yulia Tymoshenko, who is running third nationally with 13.1 percent, got only 4.25 percent abroad. The total number of voters in other countries was 51,840 — a small number, given millions of Ukrainians now work abroad.

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April 1, 9:45 a.m. — Latest voter turnout figure is 63.52 percent —  about 3 percent more than at the 2014 presidential election, but more than 3 percent less than at the 2010 election. Turnout for elections before that averaged more than 72 percent, with the highest turnout ever in the first election in 1991, when it was 84.2 percent.

April 1, 9:20 a.m. — With nearly 55 percent of the vote in, Zelenskiy holds firm at 30.23; Poroshenko at 16.57 and Tymoshenko at 13.1.

April 1, 8:32 a.m. — With almost half of the votes in, Zelenskiy: 30.22; Poroshenko: 16.62; and Tymoshenko: 13.07.

April 1, 7:23 a.m. — Now with 43 percent of votes counted, the same story: Zelenskiy – 30.23; Poroshenko – 16.63; Tymoshenko – 13.11.

April 1, 5:57 a.m. — Results holding with 33 percent of the votes counted: Zelenskiy – 30.17, Poroshenko – 16.69; Tymoshenko – 13.18. Pro-Russian lawmaker Yuriy Boyko looks set to finish a close fourth place with 11.43 percent.

April 1, 5:24 a.m. – With nearly 28 percent of the votes counted, very few changes in the results. The latest: Zelenskiy – 30.10; Poroshenko – 16.77; Tymoshenko – 13.25.

April 1, 2:40 a.m. – Central Election Commission processed and counted 11 percent of the votes. Zelenskiy is in the first place with 29.79 percent, followed by Poroshenko (16.72 percent) and Tymoshenko (13.65 percent).

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12 a.m. – How Ukrainians in different parts of the country supported the two apparent leaders of the election, Zelenskiy and Poroshenko:

A map shows how Ukrainians in the west, east, center, and south of Ukraine supported Petro Poroshenko in the March 31 presidential election. (Yuliana Romanyshyn/Kyiv Post)
A map shows how Ukrainians in the west, east, center, and south of Ukraine supported Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the March 31 presidential election. (Yuliana Romanyshyn/Kyiv Post)

11:20 p.m. – Presidential candidate Anatoliy Grytsenko, who according to exit polls will get about 7 percent of the vote, also made a statement after the election.

“I will not endorse Poroshenko in the runoff on any conditions,” Grytsenko said. “I don’t want five more years of deception and marauding. I know him too well. I can’t encourage people to vote for Zelenskiy either because I don’t know him.”

Presidential candidate Anatoliy Grytsenko speaks at his campaign headquarters on March 31 after the exit polls indicated he got around 7 percent of the vote and wouldn’t go in the runoff. (Facebook/Anatoliy Grytsenko)

11:14 p.m. – The final results of the National Exit Poll by several pollsters: Zelenskiy – 30.6 percent; Poroshenko – 17.8 percent; Tymoshenko – 14.2; Yuriy Boyko – 9.7 percent; Anatoliy Grytsenko – 7.1 percent; Ihor Smeshko – 6.5 percent; Oleh Lyashko – 4.7 percent; Oleksandr Vilkul – 4 percent; Ruslan Koshulynskiy – 1.7 percent. Other candidates polled under 1 percent.

11:10 p.m. – Central Election Commission begins publishing the results of the election. As of now, 0.4 percent of the ballots were processed and counted.

11 p.m Zelenskiy made a brief appearance at his headquarters to answer journalists’ questions. He retorted to Poroshenko, who had called him “a puppet of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky” in his post-vote speech: “I have only one question to our president: “Are you a puppet of Svynarchuk or is Svynarchuk your puppet?” By saying so, Zelenskiy referred to Poroshenko’s top ally and former deputy secretary of the State Defense and Security Council Oleh Hladkovsky, formerly known as Svynarchuk and whose son was involved in a large-scale embezzlement scheme from Ukrainian army. Zelenskiy also said he was ready to go on debates with Poroshenko.

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Zelenskiy said he was ready for any result in the second round.

“I’m not going to fight with the people. I’m not going to call for a Maidan (protest) to defend myself if Ukrainians will be against me.”

10:54 p.m. – The updated voter turnout, by region:

A map shows voter turnout in the March 31 presidential election in every region of Ukraine.

10:40 p.m. – Tymoshenko’s team shows the results of a parallel vote count in 29 percent of polling stations.

Tymoshenko’s team members claimed on March 31 that she will get the second place in the election, and will get into the runoff, based on the results they received by phone from their representatives in 29 percent of the polling stations.

Serhiy Sobolev, a lawmaker from the Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party faction, said that according to this data, Zelenskiy received 23.9 percent of votes, Tymoshenko got 18.06 percent and Poroshenko — 14.74 percent.

Another lawmaker and Tymoshenko’s ally Serhiy Vlasenko called on the journalists present at the campaign headquarters not to believe the exit-polls, which all showed that Tymoshenko wasn’t getting into the second round.

Vlasenko said that a high voter turnout in the war-torn Donetsk Oblast, whose governor Oleksandr Kuts is also an officer of SBU state security service, which is subordinated to Poroshenko, was suspicious.

“This is the area where most falsifications could have happened,” he said.

10:25 p.m. – Poroshenko said in his final speech at his election headquarters that the election results were a “serious lesson” for him.

“I soberly interpret the signal that society sends to the incumbent government,” he said. “This is absolutely serious grounds for carrying out meticulous work to correct the mistakes that have been made in recent years.”

Poroshenko argued that voters had “broken the Kremlin scenario” of the first round and accused Russia’s “fifth column” and exiled oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky of organizing a smear campaign against him.

He also lashed out against Zelenskiy, who appears to have won the first round of the election, according to exit polls. Poroshenko hinted that Zelenskiy, a comedian, wasn’t a serious candidate.

“Tomorrow is April Fool’s. We had our laughs, enough of it,” he said.

He also called Zelenskiy to debate him.

“If he doesn’t come, then he has nothing to say,” Poroshenko said. However, he himself didn’t show up for the debates with Tymoshenko and Zelenskiy that public broadcaster UA Pershiy held on March 29. Zelenskiy also didn’t show up. Tymoshenko arrived for a brief moment and left.

Zelenskiy said later on March 31 that he accepted Poroshenko’s invitation to debate him.

10 p.m. – Zelenskiy, Tymoshenko, and Poroshenko address the press and their supporters in their campaign headquarters after the first exit polls results arrive:

9:52 p.m. – The results of the exit poll conducted by the Socis polling agency, which is run by Poroshenko Bloc lawmaker Igor Hryniv, and the pro-Poroshenko Pryamy television channel: Zelenskiy – 29.25 percent; Poroshenko – 19.19 percent; Tymoshenko – 13.75 percent; Yuriy Boyko – 9.24 percent; Anatoliy Grytsenko – 7.91 percent.

9:47 p.m. – Final voter turnout: 63.92 percent of all registered voters cast their ballots as of 8 p.m., according to the Central Election Commission.

9:15 p.m. – Tymoshenko, who according to three exit polls doesn’t make it into the runoff, said the exit polls were rigged. Speaking to the press at her campaign headquarters in Kyiv, the three-time presidential candidate said that she doesn’t challenge Zelenskiy’s first-round victory, but claims that her campaign exit poll predicted she came second with 20.9 percent, while Zelenskiy won with 27 percent and Poroshenko got 17.5 percent.

Tymoshenko said she would fight for the right to go in the runoff with Zelenskiy.

9:07 p.m. – The results of the exit poll conducted by the 1+1 television channel’s TSN show: Zelenskiy – 30.1 percent; Poroshenko – 18.5 percent; Tymoshenko – 14 percent; Yuriy Boyko – 9.1 percent; Anatoliy Grytsenko – 7.6 percent;  Ihor Smeshko – 6.6 percent; Oleh Lyashko – 5 percent; Oleksandr Vilkul – 3.7 percent.

8:59 p.m. – The results of the exit poll conducted by NewsOne and Channel 112: Zelenskiy – 30.7 percent; Poroshenko – 18.6 percent; Tymoshenko – 13.9; Yuriy Boyko – 10.3 percent; Anatoliy Grytsenko – 7.3 percent;  Ihor Smeshko – 6.6 percent; Oleh Lyashko – 4.3 percent; Oleksandr Vilkul – 3.3 percent; Ruslan Koshulynskiy – 2 percent. Other candidates polled under 1 percent.

8:57 p.m. – After the results of the exit polls were announced, Zelenskiy said at his campaign headquarters: “There are many exit polls, and there is only one winner” – an apparent pun on Poroshenko’s campaign slogan “There are many candidates but there’s only one president.”

8:05 p.m.The preliminary results of the National Exit Poll by several pollsters: Zelenskiy – 30.4 percent; Poroshenko – 17.8 percent; Tymoshenko – 14.2; Yuriy Boyko – 9.8 percent; Anatoliy Grytsenko – 7.1 percent;  Ihor Smeshko – 6.4 percent; Oleh Lyashko – 4.8 percent; Oleksandr Vilkul – 4 percent; Ruslan Koshulynskiy – 1.8 percent. Other candidates polled under 1 percent.

The National Exit Poll predicts that Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Petro Poroshenko will go into runoff.

7 p.m. – Tymoshenko’s team reports election violations and fraud.

The team members of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko say they recorded numerous violations as of 6 p.m. Kyiv time. Hryhoriy Nemyria, deputy head of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party, said that at one polling station in Volyn Oblast some people were meeting the voters by the exit from the polling station and then guided them to a flat where the voters were paid for their vote. In several cases, Tymoshenko representatives saw empty protocols signed by the members of the electoral commissions. Most of such cases took place in Donetsk Oblast, Nemyria said.

Also at one polling station in Donetsk Oblast several athletic young men came to a polling station and threw some filled-in ballots into the voting boxes. In Sofiyivska Borshchahivka, a village outside Kyiv, all the residents of an eight-story apartment building were not able to vote because they they were absent from the state registry of voters.

“There are some 80 to 90 families and they were not able to vote,” Nemyria said. Nemyria also said that at Ukraine’s polling stations in France, Spain and the United States some “dishonest” staff members of consulates were putting pressure on the electoral commissions. He refused to give the details though. Nemyria said that he was getting the reports about this two weeks before the voting day and reported it to Pavlo Klimkin, the foreign minister, but didn’t get any response.

Hryhoriy Nemyria, the deputy head of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party, speaks at a briefing at Tymoshenko’s election headquarters on the election day on March 31. (Oksana Grytsenko)
Magnets with a cartoonish Yulia Tymoshenko are distributed in Tymoshenko’s election headquarters in Kyiv on March 31.

6 p.m. – An alternative voter count by Opora election watchdog shows a 49 percent turnout as of 4 p.m. It is 5 percent higher than the turnout at this time in the 2014 presidential election.

5:53 p.m. – The National Police said that it had received 950 complaints about violations during the election as of 4 p.m. The police said it had opened 12 criminal cases into the alleged violations.

5 p.m. – As of 4:30 p.m., there haven’t been any serious, systemic election violations, according to Natalia Bernatska, the secretary of the Central Election Commission.

4 p.m. – Updated voters turnout: 45 percent of all registered voters cast their ballots as of 3 p.m., according to the Central Election Commission.

3 p.m. – According to Opora election watchdog, 24 percent of registered voters voted as of 12 p.m.

2:50 p.m. – Several dozens of men gathered in front of the Central Election Commission’s building in Kyiv. The men hang around the small square next to the building. Journalists and social media users suspect that they may be titushki, or pro-government protesters. A screen broadcasting the pro-presidential Pryamy television channel was also set up in front of the commission building.

Several dozens of men hand around next to the Central Election Commission office in Kyiv on the day of the presidential election on March 31, 2019. (Facebook/Tetiana Nikolayenko)

2:20 p.m. – The National Police said that it had received 284 complaints about violations during the election as of 12 p.m. The complaints are about vote buying, illegal campaigning and photos of ballots being taken. The police said it had opened three criminal cases into the alleged violations in Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Chernihiv oblasts.

1:50 p.m. – In the 2019 presidential election, Ukrainians living or traveling abroad can vote at 102 polling stations set up around the world in embassies and consulates.

Ukrainians living in Estonia wait in line to cast a ballot in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election on March 31, 2019, in Tallinn. (Facebook/Yuliana Romanyshyn)
Ukrainians line up in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Poland to vote in the first round of the 2019 presidential election on March 31, 2019 in Warsaw. (Facebook/Yevhen Prykhodko)
Ukrainians line up next to the Embassy of Ukraine in the Czech Republic to vote in the 2019 presidential election on March 31, 2019. (Facebook/Embassy of Ukraine in the Czech Republic )
Ukrainians line up to vote in the Ukrainian presidential election in Berlin on March 31, 2019. (Twitter/Andrij Melnyk)

1:40 p.m. – Only 16.67 percent of the registered voters voted in the presidential election by 11 a.m. of March 31, according to the Central Election Commission. In the last election, in 2014, the voters turnout was 59.5 percent.

1:20 p.m. – President Petro Poroshenko voted with his family in Kyiv. Poroshenko, who seeks re-election, has been polling second in most of the recent polls. “This is the crossing of Rubicon for not returning to Russia and to Soviet Union,” he said to the press at the polling station.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (C) speaks with journalists at a polling station in Kyiv during the first round of the presidential election, on March 31, 2019, with his family around him. (Volodymyr Petrov)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his family cast a ballot at a polling station in Kyiv in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election, on March 31, 2019. (Volodymyr Petrov)

12:40 p.m. – Yulia Mostova, the wife of presidential candidate Anatoliy Grytsenko and the editor-in-chief of the Dzerkalo Tyzhnya newspaper, said she had not been allowed to vote for the first time in her life. She came to the polling station in Kyiv with her husband, and found her name missing from the list of registered voters. She said she checked herself online several days earlier, and her name was on the list.

Later, Mostova said she got a call from the polling station saying they found her among the registered voters. She was assigned the wrong address.

12:10 p.m. – The first violent incident of the election took place in the morning at a polling station in Chernihiv Oblast. Police reported that a man threw a bottle of flammable liquid inside the polling station. The fire was quickly extinguished, no one was hurt, and the voting went on.

11:45 a.m. – Actor and leading presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy voted in the presidential election in Kyiv. When asked who he voted for, he said it was “an honest and decent person.” He appeared to be hinting he voted for himself.

Actor and leading presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy walks out of the voting booth holding his ballot as he is voting in the presidential election in Kyiv on March 31. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)
Actor and leading presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy casts a ballot in the presidential election at the polling station in Kyiv on March 31. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)

11:20 a.m. Presidential candidate and the Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko voted for himself in the election – and violated the law by demonstrating his ballot to the TV cameras at the polling station.

11 a.m. – Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the top candidates, voted in Kyiv. Tymoshenko is one of the candidates who stands a chance at making it to the runoff.

Ukrainian politician and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko casts her ballot at a polling station in Kyiv on March 31, 2019.
Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to the press at a polling station in Kyiv on March 31, 2019. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

10 a.m. – Election watchdog Opora reported the first violations. One of Opora’s observers was blocked from a polling station commission’s meeting in Volyn Oblast. In Kherson Oblast, more than 1,000 ballots were ruined after the local commission members mistakenly marked one of the candidates as “dropped out of the race.” In other places, people were allowed to vote without identifying documents, or before the official opening time of the polling station.

9:30 a.m. Mayor of Kyiv and former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko voted at a polling station in central Kyiv. Klitschko arrived to the polling station on a bike.

8 a.m.  Polling stations opened in Ukraine at 8 a.m. on March 31. The vote takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no online voting. There are more than 32,000 polling stations, 102 of them abroad.

The turnout during the last election in 2014 was 59.5 percent.

A woman votes in the presidential election at a polling station in Kyiv on March 31, 2019. (Volodymyr Petrov)

During the night before the election, Ukraine went on daylight saving time, adjusting clocks forward one hour.

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