Reger observes elections overseas PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 09:58
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Matt Reger, Bowling Green Prosecutor, recently returned from a trip to Mongolia to work with their election. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
When he’s not taking on cases in his post as the City of Bowling Green’s prosecutor, Matt Reger takes an interest in international politics.
A very hands-on interest, as a matter of fact.
Reger recently spent two weeks in the Asian nation of Mongolia as one of hundreds of international observers helping to oversee the country's presidential election in June.
Reger participated through the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Both the United States and Mongolia are among the group's members.
"It was just such a unique experience going to Mongolia and basically seeing what they do," said Reger. "But it's always exciting being involved in this aspect because this is the first step in having a reliable rule of law and a reliable government."
This was Reger's third international trip as an observer.
Mongolia, a former Soviet state, is a parliamentary republic with a president serving as head of state. All citizens over the age of 18 are allowed to vote, and the government says that over 97 percent of the population has biometric identification cards used for voter ID. Literacy is near 98 percent.
There were some contentious issues in the election, among them environmental concerns over mining. This was the first election in Mongolia under OSCE membership.
Reger was stationed in the remote northwestern portion of the country in the town of Ulaamgom.
The day before the election, he and another observer traveled around the countryside via automobile to collect ballots from people who wouldn't be able to physically go to the polls. Roads were rough - and in many cases, created by the people themselves.
"Everybody lived in a yurt," Reger said of the broad, round tents favored by the Mongolians in the countryside. The Mongolians themselves call the structures "gers."
"That's the unique nature of Mongolia that I found really intriguing," because nearly half of the populace is nomadic.
However, "these yurts they live in were very nicely decorated. They were warm and they were comfortable, and some of them had televisions in them and some of them had radios. And everybody seemed to have cell phones."
On the day of the elections, Reger and other observers traveled to voting precincts throughout the area, spending up to an hour at each one.
"We're looking for, basically, are people being disenfranchised in one way or another?" he said.
He indicated that he did not observe any such issues during his stay.
The food varied for Reger, featuring dishes including boiled lamb cooked with noodles, to tea "with what I would describe as sour milk and butter mixed in."
"It's always exciting to be in a new country and to interact with people."
In the end, incumbent President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, of the Democratic Party, was re-elected to another four-year term in a three-way race for the office. He reportedly won with just over 50 percent of the vote.
 

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