More than a third of Belarusians will have cast their ballots before the official Election Day on 11 October. The authorities are encouraging early voting because the results can be more easily manipulated.

Early voters include students, urged to cast ballots before the official election day by the university administration; government employees, as well as pensioners. At some polling stations, early voters received prizes for their participation.

Independent observers have filed numerous complaints about the electoral process. Their estimates of the early turnout differ from the official estimates by 5 percent. At some polling stations the divergence between observers’ estimates and the turnout announced by the authorities were much larger.

Some independent observers were barred from entering polling stations on the pretext that the official vote does not start until Sunday.

Addressing voters in social networks, Presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich urged voters to wait until the official election day. In the 2010 election, the pro-democratic opposition demanded that the results of the early vote be annulled due to widespread fraud.

A bulletin board in Minsk with information about the main electoral candidates: Tatsiana Karatkevich, Siarhej Haidukievich, Mikalai Ulachovich, and incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

A school gym is decorated for the 2015 presidential election.

A pensioner casts her ballot on October 9, two days before the official election day.

All ballots are decorated with Belarus’s coat of arms.

A woman leaves the polling booth.

A woman demonstrates an empty ballot.

An elderly man casts his vote early.

A woman and her son cast their vote early.

An old woman waits to receive her ballot as her documents are verified.

Pensioners are casting their votes.

A sign leading to the room for early voters.

A sign announcing the official election day, 11 October, in Minsk.

About 1,000 people attended a rally against a Russian military base in Belarus on October 4, one week before the election.

A man attended the Sunday rally wearing a shirt that encouraged boycotting the presidential election. The writing on his shirt reads, “Lukashenka leave! Return what you have stolen! Boycott.”

Belarusian children riding bikes decorated with Belarusian flags.

About the photographer: Siarhei Leskiec is a freelance photographer whose work focuses on everyday life, folk traditions, and rituals in the Belarusian countryside. Originally from Maladzeczna region, he received a history degree from Belarusian State Pedagogical University.