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State Duma Toughens Punishment For 'Carousel' Voting

Russia's lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, has approved a bill that toughens punishment for "carousel" voting, when voters cast ballots repeatedly at different polling stations.

The bill approved on July 19 in its final, third reading, must now be approved by the parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

According to the bill, illegally issuing and obtaining a ballot will be punished by up to five years in jail. Fines for election officials who allow "carousel" voting will be increased from 200,000 rubles ($3,400) to as much as 500,000 rubles ($8,400).

Fines for individuals who vote in more than one polling station were increased from 100,000 rubles ($1,700) to 300,000 rubles ($5,000).

Opposition and rights activists have complained that the "carousel" voting system has been used in Russia and other former Soviet republics for decades.

Russia's next regional elections are due in September, while presidential elections are scheduled for March 18, 2018.

Based on reporting by RBC and TASS