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Russian Election Commission: Turnout Passes 28 Percent On Third Day Of Constitutional-Amendments Vote

According to the authorities, almost 31 million people have cast ballots.
According to the authorities, almost 31 million people have cast ballots.

Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) says overall turnout was nearly 28.5 percent on the third day of a weeklong vote for constitutional amendments that could pave the way for an extension of President Vladimir Putin’s rule by 12 years.

Almost 31 million people have cast ballots, including remote online voting, CEC chairwoman Ella Pamfilova said on June 28.

Pamfilova also said that the CEC has received 113 complaints of irregularities.

Some 110.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots in the nationwide vote, which ends on July 1.

The sweeping constitutional reforms has sparked sharp criticism from opposition members and human rights groups who see them as an attempt at a power grab by President Vladimir Putin.

The 67-year-old Russian leader has already been in power as president or prime minister for the past two decades.

If the constitutional changes are approved, his presidential term-limit clock will be reset to zero -- opening the way for him to run for reelection when his current term expires in 2024, and again in 2030.

Under the current rules, Putin is forbidden from seeking a third consecutive six-year term.

There is no minimum turnout required to make the vote valid. But analysts say the Kremlin fears a low turnout could undermine the perceived legitimacy of the constitutional changes.

Voting stations opened on June 25 for a week to help avoid crowds on July 1, the day designated for the vote, as Russia continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote was postponed from its originally scheduled date of April 22 due to the outbreak. Early voting has been allowed since June 10 for people who don't have access to polling stations.