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Russian Election-Fraud Tactics -- Something Old, Something New

A police officer sits next to a ballot box at a polling station in St. Petersburg on March 4. The OSCE says the vote count was faulty in almost one-third of the polling stations observed.
A police officer sits next to a ballot box at a polling station in St. Petersburg on March 4. The OSCE says the vote count was faulty in almost one-third of the polling stations observed.

Related Articles

U.S. Urges Russia To Probe Vote Fraud

The United States has urged the Russian government to conduct "an independent, credible investigation of all reported electoral violations" stemming from the March 4 presidential vote that saw Vladimir Putin sweep to victory.
By RFE/RL
International monitors say the March 4 presidential election that swept Prime Minister Vladimir Putin back into the Kremlin was unfair, while Russian volunteer monitors denounce widespread voting fraud. Most of the alleged irregularities reported are time-tested tactics observed in previous elections. But the election also yielded some innovations.

Ballot Stuffing And Vote-Count Fraud


This is the most traditional example of electoral fraud, which consists of "stuffing" multiple ballots into the ballot box. This can be done by individual voters or by polling station officials who "pad" the ballot box either before or after the vote.

Russian polling station officials also have a long history of fudging the numbers on election protocols after election monitors leave the station at the end of the day. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the vote count in the March 4 election was faulty in almost one-third of the polling stations that it observed.

'Carousels' And Absentee Votes


In so-called "carousel" voting, people cast multiple ballots at different polling stations. Fleets of buses packed with suspected "carousel" voters were seen in Moscow on March 4. Activists from the pro-Kremlin group Nashi, among others, appeared to have been bused en masse from different cities to Moscow polling stations. The busing was so intense (the scale of "carousel" voting was "absolutely unprecedented," according to Russian anticorruption blogger and opposition activist Aleksei Navalny) that the head of the Moscow Election Committee felt obliged to issue a clarification saying the Nashi activists were merely giving voters rides to polling stations.

This year, the "carousel" used a new technology -- people used absentee certificates to obtain ballots at polling stations while hanging on to their absentee documents, enabling them to vote again at other locations. It is virtually impossible for monitors to prove such voters cast ballots several times.

A webcam is installed at a polling station in an effort to prevent fraud. Some 90,000 such cameras were installed across the country.A webcam is installed at a polling station in an effort to prevent fraud. Some 90,000 such cameras were installed across the country.
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A webcam is installed at a polling station in an effort to prevent fraud. Some 90,000 such cameras were installed across the country.
A webcam is installed at a polling station in an effort to prevent fraud. Some 90,000 such cameras were installed across the country.
The Central Election Commission ran out of absentee certificates (there were more than 2 million) before voting even began.

Fake Monitors


Another innovation tested out on March 4: Fake election observers were deployed at polling stations, preventing real volunteer monitors from observing the voting (polling stations have quotas for observers). Such frauds were reported in large numbers in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

'Additional Lists' Or Corporate Voting


Under electoral law, people employed in companies that operate around the clock can cast their ballots at polling stations closest to their workplace. On March 4, such companies -- who were required to submit "additional lists" of prospective voters several days before the election -- ended up massively busing their employees to polling stations. This tactic enables employers to put electoral pressure on their staff and, in some instances, "carousel" them to several polling stations.

Some opposition monitors claim that 20 percent of ballots -- or almost 14 million votes -- were cast by voters on "additional lists" in this election.

Interestingly, a number of companies and institutions, including universities and hotels, declared March 4 a working day in order to enroll their staff on "additional lists."

Vote Theft


A relatively new scheme that appears to have been used heavily in this election. Voters turn up at a polling station to find out that someone else has already voted for them. In one instance reported by the Russian media, a victim of such fraud in Moscow received a threatening call on her mobile phone minutes after alerting polling station officials of the irregularity.

Webcam Scams


In a bid to quell the wave of protests sparked by the fraud-marred parliamentary elections in December, Putin had web cameras installed in more than 90,000 polling stations to ensure transparency. But the stunt failed to impress monitors as most of the cameras offered only fuzzy images of the ballot boxes.

In the city of Magadan, Internet users even claimed they were receiving "live" footage of sunlit polling stations although night had already fallen in the city.

Written by Claire Bigg
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bogomir Lookoff (Jeff) from: Moscow
March 05, 2012 19:35
The political elite in Russia consists of 90% ex-members of the Communist Party of USSR and 65% officers of the KGB or FSB. Accordingly, system which they created on the basis of decaying soviet socialism named “Chekism-Bolshevism” (“CheKa” is the first name of KGB from 1918). So, they are chekisty-bolsheviky.

CheKa-NKVD-MGB-KGB-FSB is an instrument of torture the people of Russia. With this sophisticated mechanism Russian elite was destroyed in 1917, 1937, 1954, and 60th years. The rest of the elites are squeezed out of the country or contained in an alcoholic anabiosis. While working in Kremlin chekisty-bolsheviky protect new social order - Chekism-Bolshevism. The Lustration Law should pass not only them but also all former members of the Communist Party. That’s why the KGB-FSB now protected without rules. They’re in panic like Nazi in 1945.

How they protected themselves today, in XXI century? Primitively, like Stalin with NKVD in the XX century. They killed opposition journalists, politics and economic leaders, for example Kholodov, Listyev, Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, Magnitsky. While Russia does not pass the crucible of lustration and purified from Chekism-Bolshevism, reforms will not work. The Germans drove the country through lustration twice: denazification in 1940th - 1950th and purification of communism in the 1990th.

by: zman from: USA
March 07, 2012 01:33
ehehehe I love the anti-Putin propaganda by RDF.. Typical.. anyone opposing the US is rigging votes.. lol

Of course if the russian elections was the cleanest by far in history, the "fraud allgetaions" would still be there.
In Response

by: Mel from: USA
March 20, 2012 16:30
Just curious--do you have proof, or even hearsay, that the election was anything other than what this article claims? Seems that the piece at least gives a point-by-point of what reportedly happened from the observations of people who were there. If your sources there reported something different to you, then you should, by all means, share.

I don't know what really happened in the Russian election. And my guess is that you don't either. But I definitely would like to know the details, as any election whether here or there has the potential to affect my life--and yours and others--for good or bad. It's just unfortunate that if you have information to the contrary (from that of the article) that you aren't willing to add anything substantial to the discussion, because I would be willing to listen.

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