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06.04.2020, понедельник. Московское время 17:51

International Foundation for Election Systems Russian Federation Subject Election Commission Survey

Prepared By
Gary A. Ferguson

May 1998

Summary of Findings

Introduction

The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) conducted a mail survey of Subject Election Commissioners of the Russian Federation. Questions pertain to elections held since the 1996 presidential election.

Questionnaires were distributed to all 89 Subject Election Commissioners. Responses were received from 21 commissioners; a response rate of 24%. Response rates in the 20% range are fairly standard for mail surveys. These results cannot be projected to the entire population, but can be used to help guide IFES efforts in assisting with the Russian election process. These results can also assist the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (CEC RF) provide support to the election process on the subject level. Questionnaires were distributed during November 1997 and final responses were received in February 1998. Responses were received from the following regions1:

Central Region, North-Western Region, Povolzhsky, North Caucasus, The Urals, Eastern Siberia, and Far-Eastern Region.

The questionnaire was written by IFES Russia program director Leanne McDonald in conjunction with IFES consultant Gary A. Ferguson. The tabulations and report were prepared by Gary Ferguson. Translations were provided by Irina Zaslavskaya and Alex Yurin of IFES.

The central goals of the survey were to determine:

- Distribution and usage of IFES materials;
- The nature of subject preparation for regional and local elections;
- Local assessments of the local and regional electoral process, and
- Areas in which IFES could be of greater assistance in respondents' efforts to administer elections.

Key Findings

- IFES materials have been widely distributed. Only four respondents (19%) say they have never received any IFES materials on elections while 17 (81%) have received election materials.

- Commissioners have received the following materials:

- Model laws with different representational systems [71% (N=15)];

- Comparative analysis of election systems [71%];

- Public communications guide and a mass media kit [48% (N=10)];

- Candidate's handbook [33% (N=7)];

- Candidate registration, signature collection and verification information [48%(N=10)];

- Election officials training materials [38% (N=8)];

- Campaign financing information [43% (N=9)];

- Comparative analysis on representation systems [24% (N=5)];

- Information on the recall of elected officials [19% (N=4)];

- Procedures for normative acts of development [N=1];

- All of the materials sent by IFES [N=1].

- Materials have mainly been used as development guides and reference materials.

- Ten respondents have used the materials for developing training materials, normative acts, seminars and amendments.

- Two commissioners have used them for election administration.

- Six respondents mentioned using the materials for information bulletins, examples of international standards, activity guides, training commissioners, and as a methodological reference.

- Most commissioners (57%/N=12) have used only certain sections of the packets. One respondent has used the full packet and four have used the full packet in some cases, and sections in others.

- Commissioners find a wide range of materials useful in their efforts. In open-ended questioning, they give the following responses:

- Information on election legislation; comparative analysis and dynamics of election systems development. Model laws on the elections of the deputies to the regional legislatures.

- In formation on the recall of elected officials, and the training of election officials.

- Comparative analysis of the election legislation of the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico and other countries, as well as issues of civic education and public information.

- Recommendations to election commission members.

Other comments:

- New techniques, new approach to the development of certain procedures

- Comparative analysis of the election legislation

- All the materials are very useful

- Actual materials and statistics

- Information on the system of election commissions and its activities

- Candidates registration, signature collection and verification

- All the materials are useful to this or that extent for experts in the field of election process.

- Respondents offer a number of suggestions for ways in which IFES could be more helpful to the Subject Election Commissions.

- To develop any of IFES' model laws right in the region;

- To assist in administering an election;

- To direct necessary materials to the commissions, and to conduct seminars together with the CEC RF, due to the expense of conducting seminars separately from the CEC RF;

- To make IFES materials less voluminous, but more reflective of our environment;

- To make materials usable for the development of normative documents of the CEC RF;

- To prepare good generalized materials showing both the world's and Russian experience;

- The materials are good enough;

- To put the materials together with practical activities of election commissions of the subjects;

- To bring together all the available information on violations of the election legislation in different countries;

- To study the specific subjects' legislation;

- To present IFES materials in the form of an annual collection;

- Commissioners have been extremely active in election administration since the 1996 presidential election. Ten respondents (48%) have had two elections, 29% (N=6) have had three elections, and 24% (N=5) have had four or more elections.

- Almost all commissioners were involved in elections to the Subject legislatures (86%/N=18) or local self-government (86%). Nearly one in four (24%/N=5) were involved in elections to fill single mandate vacancies in the State Duma. Four mentioned other types of elections including for the head of the regional administration.

- 95% (N=20) of the commissioners say that training seminars with the subject election commission members have been organized in their subject since the 1996 presidential elections. In all, 10% (N=2) have had two seminars; 38% (N=8) have had three seminars; 14% (N=3) have held four seminars, and 29% (N=6) have held five or more seminars.

- Most respondents (81%/N=17) were given printed materials for use at the seminars. Just two respondents did not receive any printed materials.

- The vast majority (76%/N=16) used IFES materials at their seminars or distributed them to seminar participants.

- More than half (52%/N=11) say that candidate's representatives or members of the election commission with a deliberative vote were invited to the seminars. Another 33% (N=7) say that such people were not invited.

- Nearly all respondents (N=18/81%) say that training seminars for members of the territorial election commissions have been organized in their subjects since the 1996 presidential elections. In all, 14% (N=3) have conducted one seminar, 29% (N=6) have conducted two, 14% (N=3) have held three seminars, and 24% (N=5) have held five or more seminars.

- Again, printed materials were widely used (67%/N=14) and IFES materials were used at the seminars or distributed to participants (67%/N=14). 62% (N=13) say that ideas contained in the IFES materials were used at the seminars.

- In the case of these seminars, 52% (N=11) say that candidate's representatives or members of the election commission with a deliberative vote were invited to the seminars.

- 81% (N=17) say their seminars involved the study of a new law or instructions relating to elections; 81% mentioned a review of new procedures for the elections; 67% (N=14) reviewed aspects of the elections that cause the most problems (e.g. early voting), and a number of other subjects including pre-election campaigning, signature collections, analysis of mistakes and personal experience, and role playing exercises

- More than three-fourths (76%/N=16) say IFES seminar materials and ideas were used at the seminars with members of polling site election commissions during the time period after the presidential elections.

- Commissions prepared written instructions on a wide variety of topics including:

- Protocol compilation (95%/N=20);

- Signature collection/Verification (90%/N=19);

- Campaign financing (86%/N=18);

- Access to the mass media (71%/N=15);

- Observers' rights (71%/N=15).

- Nine out of 10 (90%/N=19) say they conducted events within the framework of the federal program of voter culture improvement. The following activities were done by their commission alone, in conjunction with the administration or NGOs, or both:

 

Commission

With Administration/NGOs

Special programs for secondary schools

N=4

N=3

Programs for young voters

N=6

N=7

TV programs on elections

N=14

N=8

Brochures on elections

N=15

N=1

Exhibitions on elections

N=2

N=1

Other activities include: information bulletins for the election commission of the krai; role-playing games «Elections `97;» mass media and young voters competitions; presentations on the radio and TV, and roundtable discussions with representatives of election associations.

- Those who did not participate in any of these activities cite budgetary restrictions (33%/N=7) as the main impediment. Other problems include lack of personnel (N=3) and lack of information (N=3).

- For the most part, commissioners indicate that in the elections conducted since the 1996 presidential election, there have been problems with a broad range of aspects of the elections and that improvement is needed for future elections. The following table outlines responses.

 

Need No Improvement

Problems Exist Improvement Needed

Serious Problems/ Improvement Needed

Signature collection/verification

N=5

N=12

N=2

Candidates registration

N=6

N=13

N=1

Airtime distribution

N=5

N=10

N=3

Relationships of the election commission with the subject

N=10

N=8

N=0

Pre-election

N=3

N=14

N=3

Conduct of special voting procedures

N=8

N=10

N=0

Development/revision of election laws

N=2

N=14

N=3

Announcement/appointment of the election day and regular election administration

N=12

N=5

N=1

Fulfillment of requirements on campaign finance

N=1

N=8

N=10

Vote tallying

N=12

N=5

N=1

Adjudication of grievances

N=3

N=13

N=2

- As the table illustrates, the areas with the greatest number of problems are campaign finance, development and revision of election laws, pre-election campaigning, adjudication of grievances, and candidate registration.

- Respondents say the main complaints related to elections deal with pre-election campaigning, campaign finance, and the lack of information or knowledge about election law. The respondents noted that these complaints fall into the following areas.

- Pre-election campaigning, signature collection;

- Ungrounded refusal to register candidate(s), violations of pre-election campaign regulations;

- Pre-election campaigning, registration of candidate(s);

- Pre-election campaigning;

- Drawing constituency boundaries for elections of the Oblast Duma;

- Appeals by losing candidates of the election results;

- Violations of regulations during pre-election campaigning;

- Complaints were not handled properly;

- Anonymous leaflets and posters by candidates;

- Participation of [government] officials in pre-election campaigning;

- Failure to observe the rule of providing equal conditions to candidates;

- Failure by candidates to [properly] pay for election-related expenses through election funds;

- Violations related to pre-election campaigning and [guaranteeing] freedom of expression;

- Use of finances [by candidates] without establishing election funds;

- Lack of a well defined legislative basis at all levels;

- Problems of pre-election campaigning have not been regulated;

- Biases in voting tabulation;

- Lack of knowledge about the elections law;

- Lack of knowledge about the election law and the Federal Law On Basic Guarantees.

- Nearly half of all respondents (48%/N=10) say that most of the problems they know of were resolved in the court, while 67% (N=14) say problems were resolved differently and one respondent says problems were not resolved at all. *Multiple responses were given.

- Commissioners have experienced a number of common election problems in elections held since the presidential election. In particular, they report voters trying to vote for their family members, voters needing more information about voting procedures, and voters receiving bribes. The following table outlines responses.

Voting place was not acceptable for voting.

N=4

Voters needed more information about the location of the polling site, procedures on the voters' lists verification, voters' registration, working hours of the polling site, the way the ballots should be filled out.

N=10

Voters were bribed.

N=8

Voters were given pressure in order to make them vote for the necessary person.

N=5

Voters had difficulties with filling out the ballots.

N=3

Voters were trying to vote for their family members.

N=16

Voters were trying to vote outside the voting booth.

N=6

There were threats to the security of the voting places or to the election commission members.

N=1

- Just one-third of all respondents (33%/N=7) say they condemned anyone who violated the regulations on campaign financing.

- Commissioners have learned a number of lessons that could be helpful in future elections. Verbatim comments include:

- Election commissions of any level should have conditions for independent activities, like office space, equipment, logistics, etc. At present election commissions in the regions are very often governed by the administration.

- There is no way to change the federal legislation during the election campaign in the subjects of RF. Election commissions of all levels should be independent technically and in terms of the budget.

- No changes to the federal legislation on elections should be made during the election campaign.

- All the personnel which are responsible for the election administration must be chosen out of honest and clean-fingered persons. The rest will be smoothed down by itself.

- The number of voters participating in elections is decreasing, especially among young people.

- It is necessary to provide for stronger responsibility for the violation of financial procedures and for bribing voters.

- It is necessary to develop good election laws for the subjects, and to have good experience in election administration.

- Candidates, observers and commissioners with a deliberative vote need training.

- It is necessary to systematize the process of commissioners training.

- It is necessary to pay more attention to any violations of the election legislation and to react promptly.

- Non-compliance of the legislation of the subject with the federal legislation.

- Careful development of laws. It is necessary to have a well established corps of professionals of election technologies.

- It is very easy to run for the elections. It is necessary to have a better defined system for nominating and registering candidates.

- Commissioners are particularly interested in receiving information or assistance on issues relating to the recall of elected officials and campaign finance. The following table ranks areas in which respondents express interest in receiving more information or assistance.

Issues related to recall of elected officials

N=16

Campaign financing

N=13

Signature collection and verification

N=10

Technology issues

N=9

Election administration

N=5

Issues related to referenda

N=4

Campaign activities of candidates

N=1

Organization, regulation, and control over the campaign process

N=1

- Commissioners look to the international community for assistance in improving the electoral process in a number of ways:

- To generalize the world experience and, on the basis of it, give its recommendations to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation;

- To give recommendations to the CEC RF on amendments to the federal legislation;

- Through dialogue and the exchange of information, and by organizing election observation abroad (if it is possible, although it is hardly possible as we don't even have enough money for the administration of elections);

- We must resolve our problems ourselves, but with due regard for the experience of the [international] community;

- To cooperate with the CEC RF more productively;

- To submit recommendations to the representatives and executive bodies of power in the subjects;

- To do election observation;

- To render methodical assistance;

- To conduct comparative analysis of the activities of election commissions of the subjects;

- To analyze the election practice in the subjects;

- To give out laws and methodical literature;

- To conduct seminars, conferences, training of commissioners.

- Most commissioners (76%/N=16) say the elections laws in Russia need improvement. Just six respondents (29%) say the laws are okay.

- When respondents name problems with the election laws that need to be regulated, one central problem with election laws emerges: the lack of compliance of local laws with federal laws. Specific comments include the following:

- In order to have independent commissions, an oblast-level election code is required;

- At the oblast level, laws dealing with signature collection and verification, procedures for pre-election campaigning, and the status of attorneys need to be improved;

- Development and adoption of an oblast-level election code;

- [Laws on the] federal, oblast and local [need to be improved];

- [Laws on the] federal, oblast and local [need to be improved] as all of them are closely related;

- Laws for all levels of elections [need to be improved];

- We need comments on a number of articles of the laws, and how these articles are used at the federal level;

- Almost all oblast laws on elections should be brought into compliance with the federal laws;

- All issues related to federal and regional election activities need to be improved. Specifically, improvements are needed on the issues of campaigning and voting in inaccessible districts;

- The status and system of election commissions are not very well defined in the legislation and constitutions (charters);

- The problem of establishing the executive body of power of the Russian Federation;

- The law of the subject «On the Elections of the Deputies to the Peoples' Assembly» [needs to be improved];

- The problems are numerous, starting from notions and terms and ending up with issues of technology of the election process;

- It is necessary for local laws to be in compliance with the federal laws.

- Most commissioners cite only moderate attempts by regional executive bodies to influence the activities of the subject election commissions. Eight respondents (38%) say regional executives are trying to influence their activities to «a certain extent,» seven (33%) say «to a little extent,» and six (29%) say they «are not trying to do so at all.» No one reports that executives are trying to influence their activities «to a great extent.»

- 90% of all commissioners favor the computerization of voter registration, ballot tabulation, and vote tallying. In all, 38% (N=8) favor computerization to «a certain extent» and 52% favor computerization to «a great extent.» No commissioners oppose computerization. Two commissioners did not answer.

- As the following list indicates, commissioners name timeliness, facilitation of election administration, and accuracy as the main advantages of computerization.

- Greatly improves election technology in terms of information collection and distribution;

- Facilitates election administration, makes the process of getting information very prompt;

- Significant facilitation of election administration;

- Prompt vote tabulation;

- Fewer people are required to establish voters lists;

- Automation of different kinds of activities of the election commissions;

- Timeliness, precision, reliability, good control of the situation, facilitation of work;

- Timeliness, precision, culture;

- Non-interference in the voting process;

- Large volumes of information which are impossible to save otherwise;

- Getting timely information about the course of voting and easy vote tabulation

- At the same time, respondents question the viability of current hardware and software for computerization of the election system. The following is a list of all drawbacks mentioned.

- Software needs improvement;

- Lack of finances and personnel;

- Lack of the appropriate software for elections of different levels;

- Lack of handbooks explaining how to use the software, if we take into account the frequency with which the versions are being changed;

- The hardware we are using now is outdated, and we don't have an adequate budget to buy new equipment or to upgrade the old one;

- Imperfection of the computer systems;

- The hardware is outdated; it is impossible to upgrade it; the software is under developed;

- Lack of stable software;

- Computer illiteracy of people;

- Inaccessibility to information for the commissioner.

- A majority of commissioners (57%/N=12) say they participate in the activities of the regional election associations while 24% (N=5) do not and four respondents did not answer. Respondents list the following activities:

- Association of the Urals zone

- Greater Volga Association

- Association of the Election Commissions of the South of Russia

Summary and Conclusions

1. IFES clearly has played a role in helping guide the activities of subject election commissions. Nearly all have received IFES materials and have used them to develop training materials, for reference materials, and to develop training seminars.

2. Commissioners would like IFES to provide additional materials on model laws, to participate in seminars along with the CEC RF, and to make its materials more practical and oriented toward specific subjects.

3. Despite the numerous elections held since the 1996 presidential election, commissioners report that electoral problems that were common in 1995 and 1996 continue to plague the system. These include group voting, voting for family members, lack of voter information, voter bribery, and voting outside the booth.

4. Commissioners also note a number of procedural problems dealing with election administration. These include: fulfillment of requirements on campaign financing; development and revision of election laws; pre-election campaigning; adjudication of grievances; signature collection and verification; candidate registration, and lack of information or knowledge about election law.

5. Commissioners say they need the following in order to improve election administration and the quality of elections:

Autonomy - Especially as it regards budget, facilities, equipment and logistics;
Legislative consistency
- No legislative changes should be made during the campaign and subject election laws should be congruent with federal election laws;
Increased Turnout
- Particularly among young people;
More Training
- For candidates, observers and commissioners;
Better Election Law
- Better election laws and more stringent consequences for violation of campaign finance and other election laws;
Election Professionals
- Commissioners want a corps of professional election administrators.
Clearer Nominating Procedures
- A better-defined system is needed for nominating and registering candidates.

6. Commissioners also want additional assistance and information in the following areas: the recall of elected officials; campaign finance, signature collection and verification, and technology issues.

7. They look to the international community for:

- Legislative recommendations to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation based on international experience.

- Dialogue and sharing of information through exchange programs;

- Cooperation with the CEC RF more closely through election observation, methodological assistance, seminars and training, model laws, and comparative analysis of the activities of subject election commissions.

8. Commissioners clearly want improvement in election laws dealing with campaign finance.

9. Despite their desire for greater operational autonomy, most commissioners cite only moderate attempt by regional executive bodies to influence the activities of the subject election commissions.

10. There is strong support for the computerization of voter registration, ballot tabulation and vote tallying, principally because of the accuracy, speed and facilitation of election administration computerization would bring to the process. However, commissioners question the viability of current computer hardware and software for carrying out the process.


1 Regions are based on those used by the Ministry of the Economy of the Russian Federation. See attached map.




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