#Commentary

Remote electronic voting: results cannot be verified

From September 17 to 19, elections were held in Russia, including remote electronic (internet) voting. In fact, it was possible to vote remotely online in Moscow and Sevastopol1, as well as in Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Murmansk, and Rostov oblasts. In Moscow, 2 million voters (almost a third of the voter list) registered to take part in the remote electronic voting (REV). According to the official data, 96.5% of them voted.

Moscow: long counting, radical change in the results, lack of monitoring

In the capital, the REV was scandalous. First of all, the tabulation of the results was delayed. Secondly, the result of the online voting radically changed the results of the election as a whole, making a strong skew in the direction of pro-government candidates. Third, the 'observers' node' was turned off at exactly 20:00 on September 19.

The Moscow Department of Information Technologies (DIT) explained the delay in the counting by the use of deferred voting (re-voting).

'Everything was recounted several times by morning, just in case, because we had a unique function for people – deferred voting, unlike the rest of the country, – said the head of the department Eduard Lysenko. – This created new features in the blockchain application that Kaspersky Lab implements for us.'

According to him, Kaspersky Lab experts had to conduct 'all-round and multi-vector checks of the accuracy of the chains' to make sure that it was the last vote of the entered ones that was taken into account.

However, independent IT experts are not convinced by this.

'I was an observer, I was a member of the election commission. I will tell you from experience: when there is a delay in counting the votes, it means that something is wrong. The longer the delay, the more they messed up or made a mistake. We can tell from this one moment alone that the electoral commission in Moscow has failed, either technically or organizationally,' Mikhail Klimarev, executive director of the Society for the Defense of the Internet, told Roskomsvoboda.

The biggest question was that the REV results completely changed the picture for Moscow as a whole. According to the calculations of telegram channel 'We can explain', one third more people participated in it than in standard voting: 'More than 1.8 million electronic ballots were issued for the elections in single-mandate districts, and only 1.3 million Muscovites physically came to the polling stations (or voted at home).'

REV-2021. By Nackepelo
Legend:
Chart on the left: Moscow results without REV
Chart on the right: Moscow results with REV
Green: ‘Smart voting’ candidate
Blue: ‘Administrative’ candidate

At the start of e-voting in the Duma elections, the number of votes received in single-mandate districts was five times greater than the number of ballots issued. For example, Znak calculated that as of 12:24 Moscow time, when electronic voting turnout was 1.1%, obsever.mos.ru2 indicated that voters were issued 22,200 ballots, but there already were 103,200 votes in (5.1%).

Co-Chairman of public movement 'Golos', Roman Udot also noted that the number of electronic votes for candidates in Moscow was 78 thousand more than the number of ballots issued. He called the voting procedure 'a disgrace' and called the elections 'one of the dirtiest' in Russian history. According to Udot, the results of at least electronic voting in the capital should be invalidated completely.

The DIT explained the difference between the two types of voting by the distrust of voters in the REV. '... experts, political scientists, and sociologists have repeatedly discussed the mixed effect of opposition party candidates publicly calling for a boycott of electronic voting. As a result, they might have lost some of the votes of people who didn't want to or couldn't come to the polling station, but couldn't take part in e-voting,' stated the department.

Fyodor Krasheninnikov, author of Republic magazine, believes that the REV will be expanded across Russia.

'Note that we are being told repeatedly over and over again that the pro-government electorate voluntarily and en masse registered for the electronic voting, unlike skeptical oppositionists, and therefore, they say, not surprisingly, that it was the results of the REV that radically changed the voting results in Moscow. Even now it is easy to imagine a scenario of utilizing this experience in 2024,' he writes.

Indeed, presidential press secretary Dmitri Peskov has already stated that electronic voting should be used as widely as possible. And Valentina Matviyenko, the Speaker of the Federation Council, has directly expressed the hope that it may be extended to the whole of Russia during the presidential election in 2024.

Stanislav Shakirov, technical director of Roskomvoboda, also pointed out a third suspicious detail: on September 19 at 20:00 the 'observers' node' (a special computer from which observers could monitor the voting process) was turned off. The key for access to this node was revoked by the FSB, after which it supposedly had to be created anew. Initially, the access denial was explained as a technical failure.

'But none of the observers gained access to this node: not at 2:00, not at 5:00, not at 09:00 when the results protocols were published in printed form,' says Denis Shenderovich, a municipal deputy from the Yabloko party.

The Russian Constitutional Court has pointed out that the right of citizens to participate in government is not limited to free suffrage. Citizens have the right to control the procedures associated with counting and tabulation of votes, as well as the ability to respond legally to violations that are discovered.

'However, in the case of remote electronic voting, the legislators did not provide effective mechanisms for citizens to exercise this constitutional right: the voting and counting system is not transparent even to those with special knowledge of information technology, not to mention other voters,' the 'Golos' movement notes.

All of this undermines trust in online elections.

Experts: 'You can't trust REV'

However, experts say that the electronic voting system could be trusted from the beginning.

'First, the REV can't guarantee that this particular person came and cast a vote and not the DIT people chose for them. Secondly, no one can preserve the secrecy of the vote, in which a person votes without pressure,' Klimarev explained to Roskomsvoboda.

In addition, the online voting system, according to him, is extremely non-transparent. So, the REV must have open-source code. Of course, the DIT published it, but, in the expert's opinion, you can't call it open source: 'it's a set of files without documentation on how the system is set up (what servers, what OS, etc.).'   Not only that, but the published "code" need not necessarily have been installed in the REV.

'And the work of the system itself should be under scrutiny: servers – sealed, in the presence of systems of double or even triple keys. Now there are some servers with some system with some code, which could have been changed along the way,' says Klimarev.

Nevertheless, it is possible to make transparent and secure online voting if there is a political will to do so, says Shakirov. However, in the past elections, according to him, 'there was no will for honest and open elections.'

Recall, that according to the developers, the recording of votes is done with a blockchain, which supposedly should provide protection against falsification. Blockchain is a technology for recording information in blocks (block-chain). To change information in one block, it is necessary to change all subsequent blocks. It is usually difficult to do because the network is distributed (all blocks are duplicated on many computers participating in the network – nodes – and mutually verified). Due to the fact that the nodes are not subordinate to each other, any change in the contents of the chain will be rejected. For this reason, recording information in a blockchain is thought to be particularly secure.

However, protection against tampering is only guaranteed when using a distributed network, where nodes are not controlled by the same host. Unfortunately, in the case of the REV system (and some other systems that 'parasitize' on the 'glory' of blockchain technology) this is not the case: all nodes participating in the network are controlled by the same individuals. In this case, we are not talking about a distributed network. As a consequence, it is impossible to defend against counterfeiting the content.

As for the secrecy of voting (in the words of the REV's authors – 'anonymity'), nominally, the authors promise it and even boast of its existence, but with the current implementation of voting systems, there are huge doubts about it.

By the way, the initial 'codes' of the REV systems can be viewed here and here (there are two REV systems in Russia, the federal one by Rostelecom3 and the Moscow one by the DIT).

Allegations of foreign interference and 'defending' the CEC website

In addition to the disputes over the REV's design and results, there were other problems surrounding the elections. For example, on September 17, the electronic voting structures were allegedly under 'DDos-attacks' from the U.S., Germany, Ukraine and other countries, CEC head Ella Pamfilova reported. Because of this, the mos.ru portal4 introduced waiting in line mode; when users tried to get a ballot for e-voting, an hourglass sign appeared alongside a message about exceeding the number of simultaneous requests to the system.

On the same day, Roskomnadzor5 demanded that Twitter explain as soon as possible why the Moscow City Election Commission account was blocked. The agency viewed the Twitter administration's actions as foreign interference in the Russian elections.

These 'unprecedented attacks' caused the Central Electoral Commission to turn on the protection of its site. On September 19, Sergei Shpilkin, an expert on electoral statistics, noticed that the CEC had put in place a system that did not allow automatic copying of the published election results. He pointed out that if you tried to copy the data from the page, 'strange characters' would appear instead of numbers.

It is interesting that this system is most likely useless for protection against attacks, but it hinders data parsing. According to political analysts, previously it was possible to download any data on the voting results from the CEC website in excel format or copy the data into an excel table from a page in HTML format. Now it is impossible. It turns out that the data are available for viewing, but not for machine processing.

'The "protection" can be circumvented, for example, by printing out a page in the .pdf format, from which you can then extract the usual text. So, all the work was done in vain. But the system does interfere with parsing. Moreover, if the CEC does not like it, one could make an API (a special interface for requesting and receiving data) that would considerably reduce the load on the server', says Vadim Misbah-Solovyov, the technical expert of Roskomsvoboda.

The researchers addressed an open letter to CEC head Ella Pamfilova urging her not to prevent them from scrutinizing the election results.

In addition, the CEC decided to hide its website from Yandex search. On September 21, when searching for 'CEC website,' the search engine displayed only news items with links to the CEC's social networks. The same thing happened with GAS Vybory6 site. Google, however, was working as it should.

What will be the public consensus?

On September 22, the Public Headquarters for Election Observation tasked a technical group to recount all votes received from voters during electronic voting in the Duma elections in Moscow. But such a 'recount' will not have legal force. A group of public control of online voting will also be created. The group will be headed by Grigori Melkonyants, co-chairman of the 'Movement for protection of voters' rights "Golos"' (recognized as a foreign agent). Melkonyants himself confirmed his participation in this initiative on Facebook.

'This audit makes no sense. The main falsification goes along the lines of violation of the secrecy of the vote. What is technically posted there does not matter at all,' Mikhail Klimarev is convinced.

On September 23rd, members of Moscow precinct and territorial electoral commissions, together with the election observers, called [on the election administrators] to cancel the results of the Moscow REV. They addressed an open letter to Alexei Venediktov, the head of the public headquarters for election observation in Moscow. The letter says that the electronic voting system 'is an instrument of falsification' and lists the reasons why the REV results cannot be recognized as valid. Thus, in addition to those listed in this article, the following was also mentioned:

- there were repeated reports of voters coming to the polling stations who were surprised to find out that they had been registered in the REV, whereas they had not;

- there were 'technical failures', as a result of which there was no continuous observation of the performance of REV, even though it was obviously insufficient;

- about 300,000 voters changed their vote in the REV system.

'The mechanisms of electronic voting proved to be difficult for public scrutiny, the training and/or search for independently qualified, trustworthy professionals requires substantial time from all concerned (candidates and parties). It is feasible only with the prior publication of the most detailed technical documentation allowing for the training of such specialists. Such an opportunity has not been provided to the interested parties,' summarize the authors of the letter.

UPD: On September 24, the CEC announced that by the next federal election in Russia, a unified system of online voting will be implemented. The option of delayed voting, which was criticized after the REV in Moscow, will not be used.

References:

1 A major city in the illegally annexed Crimea – REM

2 A portal set up for live monitoring of the remote electronic (online) voting in Moscow – REM

3 Rostelecom is the largest digital services provider in Russia – REM

4 Official portal of the Moscow city administration – REM

5 Russian federal agency for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media – REM

6 An automated state system of the Russian Federation 'Vybory' (elections) – REM

 

The original text by Roskomsvoboda may be found here (RU).

CPRF rally in Moscow, 2011. Photo by Wikimedia

The Communist Party received 19% of the votes in the last elections to the State Duma. After that, the party's supporters faced unprecedented pressure for the 'systemic opposition.' They were detained, fined, sentenced to administrative arrests, and blocked in the party premises. CPRF continues to challenge the election results and demand an investigation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Russian State Duma raises retirement age. Image by Wikimedia

On Tuesday, October 12, the new convocation of Russia's State Duma convened for its first session. Roughly a fifth of all lawmakers — 88 of 450 deputies — received their seats from higher-ranked candidates on party lists, winning the jobs because others didn't want them.

Election observation headquarters. Photo by Golos

Statement of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' on inclusion of its members into the Foreign Agents Registry, October 5, 2021.

Map of Violations, Screenshot Oct. 8, 2021

In total, from the beginning of voting dated September 17, 'Map of Violations' by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' published 4592 reports. The Map is a project that collects information about possible electoral violations using the principle of crowdsourcing – observers, voters, members of commissions may report alleged violations witnessed during the electoral campaigning or voting using a submission form on the website or a telephone hotline.

REV-2021. By Nackepelo

The "remote electronic voting" or online voting held in the Russian capital during the September 17-19, 2021 elections was scandalous, to say the least. In response, two groups have been formed by the Russian public to scrutinize the results.

Regions by level of electoral fraud
#Analysis

In order to help assess the outcomes of 2021 State Duma elections, the 'Movement in the Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' provides a reference analysis, dividing Russian regions into six groups based on the level of falsifications in the federal elections of 2016 and 2018 and in the all-Russian voting in 2020.

#Commentary

A scandal in the capital: lengthy vote tabulation, a radical overhaul of the whole election results, and shut down of the observers' node.

"We don't trust Churov - we trust Gauss". Image by Golos
#Analysis

Sergey Shpilkin analyzes data from 96,840 polling stations that cover 107.9 million registered voters out of 109.2 million on the list. His analysis demonstrates that at the polling stations where the results appear genuine, the turnout is on average 38% and the United Russia's share of votes is between 31% and 33%.

Voting. By Photobank Moscow-Live
#Report

This is a preliminary statement on findings of observation on the main voting day, September 19, 2021, by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos".' Golos ran long-term and short-term observation of all stages of the campaign. In the course of the elections, the united call center's hotline received 5,943 calls. The 'Map of Violations' received 4,973 reports of alleged violations by noon 20 September, Moscow time, including 3,787 on the voting days.

Voting. Image by Photobank Moscow-Live. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Voting. Image by Photobank Moscow-Live
#Report

This is a brief overview of election monitoring findings on the Second Voting Day, September 18, 2021 by citizen observers of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"'.

Duma elections. by George Shuklin, CC BY-SA 2.5
#Report

This is a brief overview of election monitoring findings on the First Voting Day by citizen observers of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"'.

Campaigning in Samara. 2011 elections. Image by Golos
#Report

The September 19, 2021 elections are marked by growing pressure on media and individual journalists, attempts at blocking information about "Smart Voting", and massive coercion of voters to vote and register for e-voting and mobile voting. In parallel, social media has been growing in importance for years as a space of more freedom and an alternative information channel. Here are the main findings of the report that focuses on the impact of these two antipodal trends.

Victor Vasnetsov. Three bogatyrs (Medieval Russian Heroes). Photo by flickr user paukrus
#Report

This report covers the monitoring of social networks from the 10th to the 11th week of the election campaign (August 23 to September 5) to the Russian State Duma, scheduled for September 19, 2021.

Russian passports. Image by MediaPhoto.Org, CC-BY-3.0
#Analysis

One aspect of the 2021 Russian parliamentary elections that differentiates them from previous federal elections is the potential participation in the voting process of dozens of thousands of people located on the Ukrainian territories outside of control of the Ukrainian authorities and not recognized as part of Russia by the Russian Federation itself.

Map of Violations Update Sept 6-12. Image by REM
#Report

This is the seventh overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' between September 6 and September 12. Since the beginning of the election campaign, 945 messages from 72 regions have been published on the Map.

Poll worker displaying an empty ballot box before the opening of a polling station in Moscow, 18.03.2018. Photo OSCA PA, CC BY-SA 2.0
#Analysis

The de facto impossibility to participate in elections for parties that must register candidates via signature collection turns their existence into a mere formality. This creates a vicious circle in which the system reproduces itself by welcoming only actors that are already 'in' and effectively barring new political players from elections.

Map of Violations Update - Aug 30-Sept 1
#Report

This is the sixth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 30 and September 5. In total, from August 30 to September 1, 125 messages have been received by the Map.

Social media. Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay
#Report

This report covers the monitoring of social networks from the 5th to the 9th week (July 20 - August 22) of the election campaign to the Russian State Duma, scheduled for September 19, 2021.

Vladimir Putin on XVII congress of United Russia in 2017. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

Despite its dismal approval rating, Russian President Vladimir Putin's ruling political party can – and likely will – win a constitutional majority in September's legislative elections.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Sept. 1, 2021
#Report

This is the fifth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 23 and August 29. In total, 100 messages have been received by the Map during this period.

2019 Rally for right to vote in Moscow. Image by Wikimedia Commons

The Moscow City Court has designated the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Alexey Navalny's Headquarters and the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation as 'extremist' organizations. Inter alia, it implies the prohibition to participate in elections.

The authorities have proceeded to banning pro-opposition candidates from running to the State Duma and other legislative bodies on a pretext of involvement in Navalny's projects.

State Duma elections in Sochi, Dec 4. 2011. Image by flickr/Andrew Amerikov
#Report

The elections of the State Duma of Russia of the eighth convocation are marked by considerable tightening of rules for candidate nomination and registration. In fact, the rules are much worse than in 2016, when the current membership of the parliament was elected. Run on the background of harsh restrictions on freedom of expression and information and freedom of assembly and association, the elections are accompanied by a political crackdown against the most active pro-opposition citizens.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 20, 2021
#Report

This is the fourth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 16 and August 22. In total, 98 messages have been received by the Map in that period.

Behind a camera. Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio
#Report

Equality of rights of candidates in media coverage of their election campaign is one of the most important conditions for holding free and democratic elections. For a significant part of Russians, television remains to be one of the main sources of information. During the election campaign, the influence of television in shaping the attitude of the majority of voters towards elections and candidates is often decisive. Here is a summary of monitoring findings for the five main federal television channels during the first eight weeks of the campaign.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 20, 2021
#Report

This is the third overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 9 and August 15. Since the beginning of the election campaign, 452 messages from 62 regions have been published on the Map.

 

Screenshot of Golos' statement cover image

On August 18, the Ministry of Justice of Russia included the Movement 'Golos' as the first unregistered organisation into the registry of unregistered public associations performing the functions of a foreign agent. Here is the translation of their statement.

Russian regional elections in 2018. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Report

According to the CEC data as of 9 July 2021, 4,370 elections and referenda are scheduled for 19 September 2021, including elections to the State Duma, nine gubernatorial elections (new heads will be elected in three more regions), 39 elections to regional parliaments, and 11 elections of representative bodies of regional centres. Here's an overview of legal regulations and peculiarities of these races.

Participants of Just Russia rally take off their uniforms 5 minutes after the start of the Yekaterinburg rally on May 1, 2019. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

PART 4: JUST RUSSIA-PATRIOTS-FOR TRUTH

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

A screenshot of a live broadcast of the voting process. Image by 'Golos' Movement.

In 2021, the Russian Central Election Commission decided to scrap open video broadcasts from the polling stations – a feature of Russian elections since 2012. The Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' has appealed to the President to help overturn this decision.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 12, 2021
#Report

This is the second overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 2 and August 8.

May 1st, 2009. LDPR Rally. Photo by Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 3: LDPR

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

The Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Duncan represented the UK at the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg, Germany, 8-9 December 2016.
OSCE Flags. Photo by Alex Hammond / FCO. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
#Commentary

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly will not deploy international election observation missions to the 2021 State Duma elections due to major limitations imposed on the institutions. Announcing the decision, ODIHR Director noted that the ability "to independently determine the number of observers necessary for us to observe effectively and credibly is essential to all international observation."

Reporter's notebook. Photo by 2008 Roger H. Goun. CC BY 3.0
#Commentary

On 28 July 2021, the Central Election Commission adopted a new media accreditation procedure that restricts media access to observe and report on the electoral process. The new rules violate the freedom of media editorial policy and may significantly reduce the transparency of the election process.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 5, 2021
#Report

This is the first overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between June 22 and August 1.

May 1st Demonstration of the Communist Party, 2012. Photo by Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 2: CPRF

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

Ballot stuffing, elections March 18, 2018, Lyubertsy. Image - Golos
#Commentary

Less than two months before the elections, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) decided to scrap open video broadcasts from the polling stations, which have been the feature of Russian elections since 2012.

1st of May Demonstration in Moscow. 2010. Image - Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 1: United Russia

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

Ballot box for voting on Constitutional Amendments 2020. Photo - Wikimedia Commons
#Report

Since the last State Duma elections in 2016, lawmakers have introduced 19 amendments to the election law. In the year leading up to the State Duma elections in September 2021 alone, seven significant legislative amendments have been introduced, six of them in less than four months before the start of the campaign.

TV reporter, Bryansk. Photo - pxfuel
#Analysis

After almost a decade of crackdowns on big players, the landscape of critical journalism in Russia is dominated by local or smaller niche projects. But if the 2020-2021 trend of relentless attacks on media, journalists, and bloggers continues, many of these small projects are not likely to survive into the autumn. The regime makes it pretty clear that it no longer intends to tolerate any dissent.

"1941- ssshhh!" - Image by James Vaughan / flickr

The laws on "foreign agent" and "undesirable organizations" continue to hamper the work of affected organizations, stigmatize and damage their reputation, and isolate the civil society from international cooperation and support. What are these provisions and how are they being applied?

Vladimir Putin Speech at State Duma plenary session 2020-03-10. Image - Wikimedia Commons

The Russian State Duma's seventh convocation is coming to the end of its five-year term. And according to a new report from iStories and Znak.com, dozens of its deputies haven't said a word in a parliamentary session since they were elected in 2016. Others haven't put forward a single bill. Be that as it may, this hasn't stopped these lawmakers from collecting high salaries and planning to put their names on the ballot for the State Duma election coming up in September.

Kaluga. A Holiday. Image - flickr
#Analysis

During the United Russia primaries, experts detected possible falsification of the results and instances of interference in the electronic voting process. According to some analyses, 99% of votes for the first 22 candidates on the United Russia party list were falsified while the amount of falsified votes for candidates in single-mandate constituencies reached 80-95% of the votes cast.

Arrest by the police. Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Report

According to election observers, recent amendments further limiting citizens' passive suffrage constitute a "fifth wave" of depriving Russians of their right to stand for election since the collapse of the USSR. New restrictions have a particular impact on politically active citizens.

Programming, computing and information concept. Image - Peshkova, Getty Images Pro
#Report

In May, the Russian Federation has tested a new system of remote electronic voting. The Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos" observed the testing phase, took part in the voting, and shared their conclusions and recommendations in a respective report.

"I have the right to choose!" Photo - EPDE.
#Analysis

Opportunities for independent citizen election observation and civil society space in general have been shrinking steadily in Russia over the past decade. Recently, further restrictions have been adopted that limit the ability of citizens to independently monitor electoral processes.

May 1st Demonstration of the Communist Party, 2012. Image by _TMY2892/flickr
#Analysis

Over the past 14 years, the authorities have blocked 120,000 candidates from participating in elections of various levels, depriving millions of Russian citizens of the right to choose their representatives.

A demonstration in Moscow. Image - by Andrey, Pxhere.

Russia has finally outlawed Alexey Navalny's political and anti-corruption movement. Here's how the crackdown affects activists, journalists, and ordinary supporters.

Plenary meeting of the State Duma. Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Commentary

The President of Russia approved the law prohibiting those who are "involved" in the activities of an extremist organization from running in elections.

Electoral headquarters of Alexey Navalny. Photo - Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

On June 9, the Moscow City Court, based on the charges by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, recognized the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), the Foundation for the Protection of Citizens' Rights, and the headquarters of Alexei Navalny as extremist organizations. Now, many citizens are under a threat of pressure and persecution.

Vladimir Putin at the United Russia Congress (2011-11-27). Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

Between May 24 and 30, United Russia held its preliminary selection of candidates for 2021 State Duma elections. Nearly 12 million citizens participated in the party's primaries. Yet, a more careful examination shows an increasingly controlled and non-transparent process, aimed at having the public formally 'endorse' a carefully vetted list of pre-selected candidates.

Meeting of Central Election Commission Chair Ella Pamfilova with OSCE / ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. Photo - CEC
#Report

Between 2003 and 2018, OSCE/ODIHR published 139 recommendations on how to improve the conduct of elections in Russia. In the run-up to the State Duma elections in 2021, Russia has fully implemented just over 10% of them. Some have been tackled more promptly than others.

Man using computers. Photo by: Lisa Fotios from Pexels
#Analysis

Ahead of the State Duma election on September 19, 2021, Russia just tested its remote electronic voting system. While the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (CEC) is preparing the report about the results of the test, election monitors say Russia's electronic voting system is a black box.

Alexei Navalny. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

The Russian authorities are expected to orchestrate a result in the upcoming State Duma elections that will give United Russia a clear majority of seats. This does not mean, however, that the manipulation of the electoral process by the authorities is complete. In a limited number of competitive districts, true opposition candidates including candidates who are associated with Aleksei Navalny have a real chance of winning if they are allowed to run. In recent weeks, steps have been taken to block these 'undesirable' candidates from participating.

Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russian Federation during April 21, 2021, meeting. Photo by: CEC.
#Commentary

On March 19, 2021, the new composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Russian Federation was revealed. Out of 15 members, eight new people joined the CEC. In particular, the new Commission has been 'reinforced' by bureaucrats from the Presidential Administration, the State Duma, and the Civic Chamber (a consultative civil society institution closely linked to the government).