Report of Observations: Election of the President of the Russian Federation 18 June 1996
Overview of IFES Coverage
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems has maintained a regional office in Moscow since March of 1994. On election day, IFES Moscow deployed 7 teams of technical observers made up of its on-site expatriate and local staff and consulting specialists. Four IFES teams were assigned to visit polling stations within Moscow and in the rural areas in the immediate vicinity. The Moscow based teams visited approximately 40 polling sites in 7 territories. In addition, IFES sent a team to Stavropol Kray across the northernmost border of Chechnya where precincts in 2 territories were observed. IFES also coordinated with its home and regional offices to provide teams to observe the voting at Russian Embassies in Washington, D.C., Romania, and Ukraine. The primary focus of the IFES observer teams was to assess the conduct of the elections from a technical and administrative standpoint as a reference from which to:
- evaluate procedural performance of polling station and territorial commissions in meeting the requirements of law;
- assess the degree to which election participants took advantage of the privileges afforded them under the law to openly observe the process and gain access to election documentation and voting results;
- evaluate the success of evolving refinements in election transparency, accountability and technology; and,
- determine where opportunities exist to continue the positive evolution of the election process in the Russian Federation.
General Statement of Finding
Based on the accumulated observations of the 7 IFES teams, it is noted that the general manner in which the presidential election was conducted represents an important step in the continuing evolution of the election process in the Russian Federation since 1993. Refinements and innovations were noted in many procedural components, and, notwithstanding random inconsistencies, officials generally demonstrated a competent and professional standard of overall performance. The level of transparency, accountability and procedural competence has been notably advanced.
Among precincts and territorial commission offices visited by the teams, infractions or questionable practices were sporadic, non-systemic and tended to be insufficient to cause the results to be unreliable. Nor did there appear to be any evidence that infractions were in any way an organized or pervasive attempt to manipulate or falsify the results. Within the scope of its own observations, IFES can point to no evidence to suggest that circumstances would warrant serious challenges to the general integrity of the election process as it was conducted on election day. Most importantly, based on its observations of election day activity, IFES believes that the results of the election are an accurate reflection of the popular will.
Training and Official Competence
- Precinct and territorial sites visited by team members had training handbooks and instructional reference materials on hand. In the majority of cases it was evident that these materials had been well read; often officials interviewed by team members specifically referenced portions of these materials as they described their procedures.
- Officials, particularly in the Moscow area, mentioned that they had attended as many as four training sessions conducted by higher level commissions before election day
- Team members noted that officials seemed confident and knowledgeable about law, and the regulations and instructions promulgated by the Central Election Commission. For the most part, there seemed to be a positive level of confidence in their understanding of the procedural details incumbent in their responsibilities. With a few exceptions officials were able to respond competently to observer questions and their answers tended to be consistent from polling site to polling site.
Polling Site Organization
Most polling sites were well organized and configured in a way, which promoted the efficient flow of voters. There seemed to be little confusion or chaos even during peak voting hours.
- Particularly in Moscow, team members noted that generally, the lay out of polling stations had improved over prior elections in that ballot boxes remained in full view of officials and observers throughout the day. In prior elections, ballot boxes were often hidden behind secrecy booths out of view. This improvement may be attributable to the layout diagram, which was provided for the first time in the precinct handbook. In almost all polling sites mobile ballot boxes were also in plain view except when they were taken from the polling site to assist voters voting outside the polling station. There were, however, a few sites where the sealed mobile ballots boxes were stored in a separate room outside the view of commission members and observers.
- It must be noted that there seemed to be a disconcerting disregard for the secrecy of the vote. At virtually every polling site visited by IFES teams voters frequently voted in the open at tables or on other surfaces which commissions had made available outside the secrecy booths. For the most part open voting was permitted with little intervention by election officials. Although secrecy booths were provided at all polling stations, often family members conversed about their votes and marked their ballots together. During this election there appeared to be no reason to believe that undue pressure was being applied or that manipulation was involved. However, this practice should be discouraged. Unless secrecy requirements are uniformly applied, the system will remain vulnerable to manipulation through real or perceived pressure. Additionally, the potential will exist that voters who choose to use the secrecy cabins may feel somehow stigmatized.
- There seemed to be no consistent feature of the layout of polling stations designed to purposefully hinder or impede the view of observers or representatives of the candidates. No barriers were devised at any of the polling stations visited by the IFES teams. However, it was noted that sometimes the configuration of a specific facility used as a polling station was not conducive to providing an open and convenient view of proceedings to observers and representatives of the candidates. This was particularly noted in places where the polling station was set up in a hallway, or long narrow room.
- As with prior elections, all polling sites were appointed with authorized informational posters about the candidates. In addition, instructional posters advising voters about the steps of the voting procedure, special voter services and how to mark the ballot were prominently displayed. Sample ballots containing fictional names were also posted. Voters were frequently observed reading the posters carefully.
- At the polling sites visited within the Russian Federation, team members noted the presence of security personnel. However, at no site did their presence seem obtrusive. Nor did team members notice any instance where they participated or assisted with any of the procedures.
The law provides liberal opportunities for candidates and electoral associations to appoint their representatives and observers to be present at the polls throughout election day. In addition, candidates are each entitled to appoint a person of their own choosing to serve as a member with deliberative vote on each election commission. Members appointed by the candidates are entitled to be present at all sessions of the election commission on which they serve and are allowed to participate in the commission's deliberations and debates on all election related matters. However, they are not entitled to vote as formal decisions of the commission are actually adopted. The law also provides opportunities for observers of public associations and foreign states and organizations to be present at the polls on election day.
Observers and representatives of at least some candidates were present at virtually all polling sites visited in Moscow. It was noted, however, that candidate representatives appeared in fewer numbers at stations visited in Stavropol Kray. Zyuganov and the Communist Party were the most consistently represented and seemed to be the best prepared. The Communist Party had also arranged for their observers to be present at the Embassy in Kiev where a remote polling station had been established. Yeltsin observers were also widespread. At least in Moscow, observers acting on behalf of Lebed and Yavlinski were encountered in many but not all stations visited by IFES. Bryntsalov and Zhirinovsky (or the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) were represented at a number of precincts although more sporadically. In only a few instances did IFES encounter observers representing any of the other candidates. In isolated cases IFES also noted observers representing public and electoral associations not directly involved in the nomination of a candidate, including observers representing the Agrarian Party and the Russian Association of Scientists of Marxist - Lenin Orientation.
One concern was that observers representing Yeltsin seemed to have been affiliated with local administrative authorities. Because the preponderance of the Yeltsin observers IFES encountered seemed to come from local administrations, it leaves open the question as to whether they were volunteers or whether they had been drawn into service because of their availability through the administrative structures. In contrast, the observers representing other candidates generally seemed to be more directly connected with the campaigns of the candidates. It was also apparent that the Yeltsin observers frequently seemed unprepared to fulfill the role of observer effectively.
At least one or two deliberative voting members of the commissions tended to be present at polling sites, particularly in Moscow, although not every candidate seemed to have his member present on a consistent basis. It was not clear as to whether they were simply absent or whether candidates had failed to appoint a deliberative member in every instance. At a few sites where no deliberative members were on hand, IFES teams were advised that these members were free to leave for periods of time and return at will. In the instances when they were present, the level of participation in election day activity by deliberative voting members appeared varied. Monitoring on behalf of candidates and electoral associations in both Moscow and Stavropol Kray seemed to rest on their observers rather than on their deliberative voting members.
- In the majority of cases, officials seemed well informed about the rights of observers. Commissions members were almost always cooperative toward observers. In one instance a representative of a candidate informed IFES that he had been told that he would not be able to have a certified copy of the results until after the precinct's protocol had been reviewed by the Territorial Commission. This observer had asked about the procedure early in the day and it is not known whether this policy was adhered to at the end of the counting.
- When asked about any concerns or issues noted by observers or deliberative voting members of the commissions, responses indicated that only minor infractions had been observed. For example, observers noted voters voting outside the polling booths, or requesting more than one ballot. In virtually all cases the observer acknowledged that the infractions were minor and not of serious consequence.
- At sites where IFES observed the counting of votes, representatives of at least some of the competing candidates were present. Observers at these sites were not purposefully hindered from having a full and clear view of the counting process. IFES teams observed that where candidate observers requested a certified copy of the protocol, they were provided promptly, although there were reports that at some sites observers were refused or put off to receive certified results from commissions at the territorial levels.
- Some candidate observers were better prepared than others. In particular, the Communist party had prepared instructional materials for their observers at precincts and at territorial commissions. Some of their observers encountered by IFES in Moscow had pre-prepared forms on which the observer could copy election returns and request the commission members to affix the certifying signatures and official seal. In general, however, observers did not seem well informed and did not seem actively engaged in the process.
Processing of Voters
- IFES noted that the form and format of voter lists had been improved at some sites. In some areas the lists had been computerized where in the past they had been handwritten. Computerized lists were broken into smaller segments allowing separate lines to be formed at the polling station to improve the efficient flow of voters. As voters were added to the list on election day, officials seemed to be conscientious about writing complete information about the voter onto the list. In addition, thorough notations were made to reflect the voter's special circumstance. Officials at several sites had also made notations next to the names of persons who had died or who were known to have moved away. However, practices for updating or correcting the list implemented by the polling station election commissions prior to election day seemed to vary.
- Given the allowance in the law for voters to be added to the lists on election day, the number of additions did not seem to be unreasonable or sufficient to raise concern about the general reliability of the lists. Additions were generally in two categories: eligible voters who were moved to the area after the lists were produced, or omitted from the list in error; and, voters who presented Absentee Certificates making them eligible to vote absentee at a precinct where they were not registered. The numbers of these additions in the precincts visited by IFES were not unreasonably high, although in one instance there appeared to be a number of voters from a specific building who had been overlooked when the voter lists were prepared. Observers in Stavropol Kray observed two polling sites servicing military bases where 50 - 70 newly arrived conscripts had to be added to the lists.
- Voters were consistently asked to provide ID and to sign the voter list. In only an isolated instance did IFES note that a voter was allowed to vote on the basis of an alternative form of ID that did not appear to have sufficient information on which to determine the person's eligibility. Routinely, voters who failed to provide appropriate identification were refused a ballot.
- There seemed to be very few voters who brought more than one passport and asked to vote on behalf of family members. Contrary to traditional practice, these people were consistently denied the additional ballots. There seemed to be uniform compliance with the law on this issue and officials consistently refused to give a voter more than one of ballot.
- Absentee Certificates were honored and processed according to the provisions of law. At the sites visited by IFES Certificates were consistently stamped by the issuing precinct and uniformly signed by the polling station official where they person voted. IFES teams were advised that voters retained the Certificate lo allow them to vole absentee in the second round. IFES would suggest that in the future, the Certificate be retained by the polling station issuing the ballot as part of the polling site documentation supporting the addition of the voter's name to the voters' list. The practice of allowing a voter to retain the document may have been perceived as a convenience to voters who may need to also vote absentee in the 2nd round. However, this practice may potentially result in another range of issues during the subsequent election related to accountability and new adjustments to the voter lists for voters who may then be back home.
- The law requires polling station commission members to «certify» the ballots in their possession. A voted ballot which has not been certified cannot be counted. Certification requires the ballots to be signed by two members of the commission, and affixed with the official polling station seal. In general, ballots were pre-signed and stamped by the polling site officials in advance of election day. IFES would suggest that even if they are stamped and signed by one official in advance in the interests of efficiency, the signature of the second officials should be affixed at the time of issue. This would ensure that the certification provides the security that is intended. Certification of all ballots in advance renders them all «official» leaving them vulnerable to fraudulent use. Ballots tended to be maintained in orderly stacks, and IFES noted that officials handed ballots to voters personally. Generally, ballots were placed outside the reach of voters precluding them from being handled until officially issued.
- Under the law, voters who cannot come to the polls because of ill health or other good reasons may apply to have a ballot brought to them at home. IFES noted no improper use of the mobile ballot boxes. The number of voters utilizing this service typically ranging from 12-26, which seemed reasonable in the majority of cases. At one site that had significantly more at-home voters, officials explained that their polling station served an area with a particularly high number of pensioners. At this site they had spent part of the day before the election plotting their logistic schedule to accommodate the high number of at-home voters involved. IFES observed voters coming to the polling station to vote making application for the service on behalf of their family members. IFES also reviewed notations about applications made by phone in advance of election day and the process of completing the forms for certification by the voters involved. One polling station commission in Stavropol Kray considered using the portable ballot box to vote newly arrived recruits at a nearby military base, but then decided to bring the soldiers to the polling site to vote in person.
- Two IFES teams followed the mobile ballot boxes and observed that the process of serving voters at home was carried out in a manner, which was consistent with the law. Both teams were impressed by the competence and exactness in following procedures related to giving neutral instructions to the voters and affording privacy as the voters marked their ballots. The elderly and disabled voters served were very grateful for the opportunity to vote by this means. Thus, although this procedure carries a risk of improper use and manipulation and continues to require strict controls, the tradition of the mobile ballot box seems to be an indispensable service to voters. In no instance observed by IFES did the number of ballots in a mobile ballot box exceed the number of applications.
- IFES also encountered a number of military servicemen voting at regular precincts. In one particular case 1,025 soldiers were included on the list with civilian voters on the list. While IFES team members were present, truck loads of soldiers were brought to the site so they could cast their votes. IFES was advised by some servicemen with whom they spoke that campaign materials of the candidates had been made available before election day, and that they had been instructed about where they would vote and the procedure to be followed. Although it was not possible to determine the degree of candor with which they responded, soldiers indicated that they were not told for whom to vote. They acknowledged that there had been debates among themselves and that they were divided in their choices. They were processed in the normal manner although the fact that so many were brought at once put a substantial burden on the polling site commission. At this site, and at others, military personnel were sometimes represented on the commissions.
Counting of Votes
In the precincts observed by IFES in Moscow, counting was generally carried out in an orderly fashion. Observers at a polling station near Budyonovsk in Stavropol Kray found some confusion and an apparent urge to rush the counting process.
- It was noted that only in rare instances did voters appear to not understand how to mark the ballot. Only a few ballots were marked in the traditional way by marking out all the candidates the voter rejects leaving the favored choice exposed. In these cases, the votes were not counted.
- Officials seemed to understand the rules regarding invalid ballots and no challenges were raised by observers or deliberative members of the commissions regarding decisions made during the ballot review.
- In the Moscow precincts observed by IFES, counting involved use of a tally sheet providing another layer of documentation to support the results. The tally sheet concept is a new innovation, which was employed in Moscow. It was not clear whether this feature was utilized throughout the Russian Federation. However, officials acknowledged that they found the tally sheet useful. These tally sheets were retained by the Polling Station Election Commissions with the 2nd copy of the protocol and other supporting documents.
- Observers were present during the count, although not every candidate was represented. Observers were not hindered in their view of the process. However, one IFES team in Moscow noted that a candidate observer assisted in the sorting of ballots. At another site in Moscow member of the commission with deliberative vote actually assisted in the counting of the ballots. In none of the instances where observers assisted in the counting did it appear that these irregularities represented an attempt to manipulate the counting process; nor, was there any concern that the reliability of the results was undermined.
- At a precinct in Budyonovsk, the IFES team witnessed commission members canceling the unissued ballots at the same table and at the same time the counting of votes was taking place.
- IFES noted that it took longer for officials to complete the protocol documents than to count the votes. In particular, commissions seemed to have difficulty in making the appropriate calculations and determining the figures to enter on that portion of the protocol that accounts for the numbers of voters participating and ballot usage. Although narrative instructions were issued, the line items provided on the protocol do not include all the actual categories of information, which must be identified, or the calculations, which must be made before a correct figure to be entered on the protocol, can be determined. To simplify and speed up this process, IFES believes that the protocol should be modified or that worksheets should be provided which include appropriate spaces needed to complete the necessary calculations related to each line item entry.
- One IFES team observed the counting at a precinct, which had been selected as a test site for newly installed ballot scanning devices. Instead of dropping the ballots into a regular sealed ballot box, each voter inserted his ballots into a scanner, which read the markings and counted the votes automatically. The holding box in the scanning machines remained sealed until after the polls closed. At the end of the polling, the boxes were opened and the manual counting was carried out in the usual manner. Although the results of the scanner count were not intended for publication, IFES had the opportunity to review and compare the computer results with those of the manual count. In a few instances, there was a one vote difference between the scanned count and manual count total attributed to a particular candidate. However, these discrepancies may be attributed to subjective decisions made by the commission regarding whether or not a questionable ballot could be counted. IFES believes that the test was successful.
- IFES received certified copies of the protocols on request with no hindrance and noted no refusal to provide such copies to candidate representatives who made similar requests.
- No observer or official with deliberative vote raised a challenge about the validity of the vote counting or the results in IFES presence.
Summarization at Territorial Commissions and Entry of Data into the State Automated System.
IFES tracked precinct results through to the Territorial level where results were summarized and advanced to the Subject Election Commission and to Central Election Commission for incorporation into the Federation-wide results through the State Automated System. Each Subject Election Commission is responsible to consolidate the summarized and reported from all the Territories in its jurisdiction. The summary of results from each Subject is also reported to the Central Election Commission.
IFES teams observed the summarization at 4 territorial offices. In each case, IFES found the activity at the territorial offices they observed was orderly and well organized. At the territorial office observed by IFES in Budyonovsk officials utilized 2 rooms to accept receipt and organize the protocols delivered by the precincts based on their location in the city or surrounding area. In both Moscow and Stavropol Kray, IFES observed that the polling station protocols were being checked by Territorial Commission members before data entry began. At this stage, some protocols were rejected and sent back to the polling sites for revisions if they were improperly completed or if computations were inaccurate.
All IFES teams were impressed by the efficiency and transparency of the State Automated System (SAS) computer summarization of election results at the territorial level. Data entry was quick and efficient. There appeared to be an adequate level of verification to ensure that the data entered was an accurate reflection of the results reported by the precincts.
- Computer operators and election officials responsible for this process were knowledgeable and professional. Inputting the data from precinct protocols was conducted in the presence of polling place officials who were required to verify the accuracy of the input against their original protocols.
- In a few instances where the SAS computer recognized errors and refused to accept data on the basis test criteria incorporated into the software, polling site officials were required to reconcile the numbers and prepare and certify new copies of the protocols since under the law no corrections or erasures can appear on the certified originals prepared in triplicate. IFES noted that when errors were made by precincts they did not relate to the votes cast for the candidates and so the revision of the protocol did not alter the results which appeared on the certified copies of the initial set of protocols provided to the observers. Rather, the errors related to the ballot accountability portion of the protocol.
- Once the data from the protocol was entered into the computer, it was not actually transmitted until it had been verified against the original protocol by member of the Territorial Commission and the Chairman of Polling Station Election Commission. In one instance an error was found, but the data had been entered before being thoroughly verified. There was some confusion as to how to make the correction.
- Although not of serious concern, IFES noted that practices varied somewhat as to signature requirements for certifying SAS data input. In Moscow printouts were generated as the data entry for a precinct was concluded. In some cases the printout was signed by senior members of the Territorial Commission then signed by the data entry operator. The printout was kept by the Territorial Commission. In other instances, only the computer operator signed the printout. In Budyonovsk, as each precinct's results were entered and verified, the printout was signed by the computer operator and the polling site official. The polling site official was then required to sign a log being maintained by the computer operator listing the number and location of the precinct, and the time of completion of the data entry. The precinct printout was given to the polling station official. IFES would agree that a signature recording the polling station official's acknowledgment that the data entry accurately reflected the results submitted on the original protocol would add an important element to the accountability and verification process.
- In sum, all components of the SAS system seemed to work together successfully. Most notably, the system seemed to encompass sufficient programmatic and procedural safeguards to promote accuracy while ensuring transparency and accountability.
Russian election authorities made a determined effort to permit Russian citizens living or traveling abroad to vote. IFES found polling sites abroad to be well organized. Embassy officials were well informed, open and cooperative with IFES observers. In Washington, there were approximately 600 voters on the voter list covering embassy and consulate employees and employees of enterprises such as Aeroflot. Ultimately, however, with additions to the list, the number of ballots cast at the Embassy was approximately 1,500. Kiev reported over 1,000 voters on their list including those that had to be added during the course of the day.
The IFES team observing in Washington, D.C. learned that separate polling stations were also established in the cities of Chicago, New York, Boston, Anchorage, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. At each of these stations the ballots were counted on site. The results were reported on individual protocols and communicated directly to Moscow.
In general, the procedures followed by Election Commissions in the Embassies observed by IFES in Washington, D.C. and Kiev were generally consistent with the procedures implemented at polling stations within the Russian Federation.
- Polling stations were well equipped and secrecy cabins were provided to allow voters to vote in private. With few exceptions voters used the secrecy booths, even when long lines were forming in the Washington, D.C. station. Appropriate informational materials were posted such as the posters containing the biographies of all the candidates, and sample ballots. In Kiev a real ballot was displayed with the word «example» prominently displayed on its face. Informational material regarding the candidates was available in Kiev, but it did not contain their photographs or biographical statements.
- Voters were consistently asked to present their identification before being allowed to vote. In Kiev the number of voters appearing to vote absentee without Absentee Certificates exceeded those that had them. H:wever, based on their valid identification, they were added to the list and allowed to vote. In Washington, IFES team members noted that voters who were not on the voter list and did not have an Absentee Certificate were asked to fill out a special request form to be added to the list. During the time IFES team members were present in the Embassy in Kiev, 6 voters presented themselves to vote who did not have appropriate citizenship documents with them. They were refused ballots. One voter submitted a handwritten complaint about not being able to vote. The Chairman advised him that his complaint would be forwarded to the Central Election Commission.
- At the Embassy in Washington, no use was made of the mobile ballot box. However, in Kiev IFES observers noted that one voter had been served at home. The request for this service was made by a husband who had asked that a ballot be taken to his wife. There had been other requests submitted to the Election Commission in Kiev but it was determined that the voters were too far away for the service to be feasible.
- IFES team members were the only observers present at the Washington, D.C. station, except for media representatives from CNN. IFES observers in Washington noted that although they arrived at 7:30 to observe the opening of the polling station, they were told by the Embassy guard at the gate that they would have to wait until 8:00 a.m. The IFES team entered the station with the first voters.
- In Kiev there were four observers representing Zyuganov (or the Communist Party.) When asked their opinion as to the manner in which the voting was being conducted, these observers indicated that the process at the polling station appeared to be in order.
- At the Embassy in Washington, D.C. the station was responsible for counting the ballots and reporting the results from special voting locations established in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Miami. Houston and the Washington, D.C. «dacha.» Before counting the ballots cast in Washington, the boxes from each of the other subordinate cities were opened and the ballots counted individually with a separate tally sheet prepared for each site. As the tallying of votes was concluded for each of these cities, the members of the commission counted the total number of valid ballot papers and compared them to the number of votes that were tallied. Only then were the ballot boxes at the Embassy in Washington opened. Eventually the results from the individual tally sheets were summarized onto a single protocol. Approximately 2,195 voters were served in Washington and its subsidiary cities. The counting process was carried out smoothly and efficiently. In completing the accountability portion of the protocol, commission members noted a discrepancy in the total number of ballots issued at all sites and the total number of voters who participated. It took about an hour for the discrepancy to be resolved. Once completed, the protocol was immediately faxed to Moscow.
Although the voting was conducted in a well organized and orderly manner at both of these Embassies IFES noted some areas that will deserve further review.
- Due to uncertainty in the number of voters who would present themselves on election day, IFES noted that embassies received far more ballots than were actually needed. Kiev had received 2,000 ballots while the Embassy in Washington had received 5,000 ballots. Officials in Washington advised IFES that the voter turnout at the Embassy was only slightly higher for the Presidential Election than for the Parliamentary Elections in December of 1995. IFES recommends that the actual turnout experienced in the 16 June Election be used as a basis for determining how many ballots should be sent to these remote sites for the 2nd round election.
- In contrast to the overage of ballots provided to the Embassies, subordinate cities experienced a shortage. When some of these cities had run out of ballots, Washington faxed ballots to them. The faxed ballots contained only one commission member's signature, and no official stamp. Upon their return to Washington for the final count, these faxed ballots possessed no additional verification of authenticity from the issuing polling site. However, IFES team member noted that all faxed ballots contained the Embassy fax number. IFES observers could not ascertain, however, whether a record had been kept of the number of ballots that had been faxed. Based on actual usage of ballots at subsidiary sites it should be easier to determine the number of ballots, which should be provided during the next election.
- IFES observers also noted that during the poll closing procedure in Washington, the unused ballots were never canceled. Rather they were sealed in a box intact.
These practices raise questions regarding the control over the number of used and unused ballots and overall uniformity in the accounting for all official and faxed ballots.
Simultaneous Conduct of Mayoral Elections in Moscow
In Moscow and in several other cities in the Russian Federation local elections were held on the same day as the election of the president. In the case of the Mayoral race in Moscow, a number of details had to be incorporated into election day processing that differed than those utilized in the presidential election. In particular, special procedures were necessary in view of the fact that certain voters who would be eligible to vote for the president would not be eligible to vote in the mayoral election. In addition, under local election law advance voting in the 15 days immediately preceding the election is permitted in place of the absentee voting allowed with an Absentee Certificate under the laws governing the presidential election. IFES team members had the opportunity to observe how these differences were accommodated in the Moscow precincts they visited.
- Officials maintained the listings of voters added to the voters list in a manner, which allowed them to account for those voters who were eligible to vote in both the mayoral race and for president from those absentee voters who were only eligible to vote for president. Among the latter group were generally those whose normal residence is outside Moscow and who were voting absentee. Each precinct had devised a way to identify those added voters who belonged to each group by making appropriate notations next to the person's name as they were added to the list. This attention to detail was particularly important as protocol were completed at the end of the count to account or voters who participated in each type of election since all precincts used a single voters list to accommodate both.
- Commission members certified ballots paying particular attention to the differences in the requirements under local and federal law.
- From what IFES was able to observe, officials were careful about providing only the local ballot to those taking advantage of the opportunity to vote in advance afforded under local election laws. Those voters were specially noted in the voter lists and there appeared to be only a small number of them. IFES did not that at some locations the advance local ballots were deposited into the ballot box while still in their envelopes. At other sites the advance ballots had been removed from their envelopes prior to their being put in the ballot box.
- At some precincts IFES encountered observers representing mayoral candidates.
- Both mayoral and presidential ballots were deposited into the same ballot boxes. When the ballot boxes were opened, Moscow ballots were first segregated from presidential ballots. The votes for the two elections were counted separately and recorded on separate tally sheets. Separate protocols were completed for two races.
Operation of Election Commissions Before and After Election Day
- IFES knows of one instance where a polling site commission in Moscow was not open during normal business hours in the days immediately before the election. As a result a number of voters who had visited the station for the purpose of applying for Absentee Certificates were not able to get them. A call to the Territorial Commission to request remedial action was not successful.
- Territorial Commissions should remain on duty until the legal expiration of their terms, which is after the official publication of the results of the election. When IFES observers attempted to visit a Territorial Commission on two separate days immediately following the election, only to find them closed or unavailable. The pre-mature closure of the territorial offices immediately upon their completion of their summarization and reporting of territory-wide results undermines the ability of observers to track results reported from the precinct level. If Territorial Election Commissions have ceased operation, observers cannot review the official protocol of aggregate totals and tables. As such, the transparency of the process at the territorial level is compromised. If Territorial Commissions do not have sufficient work to fill an entire business day, they should consider assembling for a certain number of hours each day to provide public access to election documentation. These special hours should be clearly posted and adhered to.
Although the conduct of election day activity could be considered a success, especially in comparison with the 1995 and 1993 elections, there are issues which will continue to deserve attention.
- The fact that most major candidates were nominated by initiative voters' groups points to the continuing weakness in party development. Continued attention should be focused on encouraging legal reform that provides adequate incentives and structure for the formation of bonafide political parties under a separate body of law; and, 2) strengthening party infrastructures, platform development and voter outreach capabilities.
- The imbalance of media coverage and the abuse of certain advantages of incumbency need continued attention. In particular, policy decisions must be formalized about the role of the Central Election Commission as it is implied under the law, and responsibilities of the Judicial Chamber on Mediation of Media Disputes in monitoring these abuses.
- Generally speaking, there remains a noticeable lag between the general standards of performance in Moscow and that observed in other regions. A review of the infractions and irregular practices points to the need for continued work to extend the proficiencies realized m major cities to regions where inconsistencies were more frequently apparent.
- It is clear that most candidates did not take full advantage of the opportunities provided to them by law to ensure their representation on election commissions at all levels through the appointment of members with deliberative vote. Nor did all candidates avail themselves of the opportunity to have their observers present to monitor the activity at polling places on election day. It is through the full participation of all candidates and electoral associations that meaningful self-monitoring and transparency can be achieved. In addition, the experiences of this election points to the need for continuing education on the part of election administrators and nominating organizations to ensure that all domestic observers are fully informed of their role in the process and the manner in which they can observe effectively.
Summary Of Election Results
In compliance with the Federal Law on the Election of the President of the Russian Federation, the Central Election Commission announced the official results based on the summarized data contained in the aggregate protocols prepared by Subject Electoral Commissions, and the prtocols submitted by Polling Station Election Commissions formed outside the Russian Federation.
Voter Participation And Ballot Accountability
Number of Subject Election Commissions Submitting Protocols of Summarized Results
Number of Precincts Formed Outside the Russian Federation Reporting on Separate Protocols
Number of Voters (Including those added to the Voter Lists on election day)
Number of Ballots Issued to Polling Station Election Commissions
Number of Ballots Issued to Voters at Polling Stations on Election Day
Number of Ballots Issued to Voters Outside the Russian Federation
Number of Official Ballots in Stationary Ballot Box
Number of Official Ballots in Mobile Ballot Boxes
Number of Ballots Destroyed (Canceled)
Number of Voters Who Received Absentee Certificates
Number of Voters Who Voted At Polling Stations with Absentee Certificates
Number of Valid Ballots
Number of Invalid Ballots
Number of Ballots With No Markings
Number of Voters Who Received Ballots
Number of Voters Who Cast Ballots
Number of Votes Cast for Withdrawn Candidate Tuleev - 308
Number of Votes Cast Against All Candidates - 1,163,682
Number of Votes Cast for Each Candidate:
Gorbachev M. S.
Yeltsin B. N.
Zhirinovski V. V.
Zyuganov G. A.
Shakkum M. L.
Yavlinski G. A.