Summary of Results Survey of Subject Election Commissions of the Russian Federation April 1996
(Based on Responses as of April 30, 1996)
As part of its ongoing program in the Russian Federation, IFES engages in consultations, round tables and seminars with election officials at all levels, government administrators, electoral associations, non-governmental organizations and election participants on a regular basis. Through its resource center IFES continues to provide information and materials to individuals and organizations on a variety of issues related to election law and administration. In particular, an effort is made to focus special attention on those areas that seem to be of particular interest or that appear to generate common questions or concerns among those with whom IFES meets.
IFES maintains contact with Subject Election Commissions through its series of monthly mailings. In each packet are materials related to a specific topic of interest as well as information, reports, analyses and exhibits from round tables conducted by IFES for various target audiences on a variety of subjects from adjudication of grievances, to campaign financing, and media disputes in the preelection campaign.
In its April mailing, IFES included an informal survey questionnaire specifically designed for members of Subject election officials and their subordinates. In the preceding weeks as preparations for the Election of President got underway, IFES was approached with a number of legal and technical issues about which there seemed to be significant interest. The purpose of the survey was to ascertain the extent to which officials serving in the Subjects and Territories may share common concerns or questions, and to assess what kind of information or assistance might be helpful. It was hoped that the responses might also be helpful to members of superior commissions in assessing additional clarification or training that might be necessary to fill any remaining gaps in the legal or procedural understanding of their subordinates.
The informal survey asked officials to assess their level of confidence in understanding the laws and procedures related to specific election components. In addition, officials were asked to identify aspects of the process which were most likely to result in questions or disputes requiring adjudication and by whom such challenges would most likely be raised. The questionnaire also asked respondents to identify administrative responsibilities that tend make their job difficult, as well as those that they believe require the most deliberation among commission members. Participants were asked to rank the top three sources of information or instruction they find most helpful in preparing them to carry out their duties. Finally, participants were asked what single change in the process should be implemented to improve administration and conduct of elections.
Confidence of Officials in their Knowledge of the Laws and Procedures
1. In general, respondents indicated a relatively high level of confidence in their understanding of the laws and procedures related to the elections. Among the ten election components identified, 56% of all responses indicated that participants felt «Very Confident» in their understanding of the procedures. 29% of the responses among all categories were marked as «Somewhat Confident.
2. Regarding their understanding of laws and procedures among the 10 components, 15% of all responses were marked «Not Very Confident.
3. Two particular elements of election processing reflected a the greatest lack of confidence among participants. 53% of respondents indicated that when it came to understanding laws and regulations related to providing equal conditions for candidates in the pre-election campaigns, they were «Not Very Confident.» 43% indicated their lack of confidence in their knowledge of rules related to campaign financing.
4. Of those respondents indicating a lack of confidence regarding campaign financing, 88% indicated that additional regulations would raise their confidence. 91% agreed that additional regulations would raise their confidence related to their understanding of the rules regarding providing equal conditions for candidates in the pre-election campaign.
5. The components generating the greatest number of «Very Confident» responses were preparation of the voter lists with 71%, processing of voters at the polls with 63%, counting of votes with 71% and summarization of results with 65%.
6. Regarding the procedures for the nomination of candidates, preparation of voters lists, or the counting of vote, not a single respondent marked the «Not Very Confident» option .
Questions and Disputes Likely to Require Adjudication
1. When asked to identify issues most likely to result in controversies requiring adjudication, campaign financing and equal conditions for the pre-election campaigns were each ranked «Very Likely» by 56% of the respondents.
2. 44%of the participants who believed that challenges regarding pre-election campaigns were «Very Likely» indicated that they would raised by electoral associations and blocs, while an additional 44% believed complaints would be raised by candidates. 12% indicated that complaints would be submitted by voters.
3. Regarding the summarization of results, 56% of the participants indicated that such challenges would be «Somewhat Likely.»
4. 89% of the respondents indicated that challenges related to the nomination of candidates requiring adjudication were «Not Very Likely.» All other responses (11%) indicated that challenges regarding the nomination process would only be «Somewhat Likely. No participant marked the «Very Likely» category.
5. Of the participants who thought challenges regarding campaign financing were «Very Likely» to occur, 100% indicated that complaints would be submitted by subordinate commissions.
6. Only 6% indicated that disputes requiring adjudication over the counting of votes were «Very Likely» to occur while 59% believe that such challenges were «Not Very Likely.»
7. 77% indicated that it was «Not Very Likely» that challenges related to the reporting of expenditures would be raised.
Difficult Administrative Issues (Participants were asked to identify 3)
1. Financial and budgetary considerations were ranked among the top three issues causing the most difficulty in carrying out responsibilities of election commissions by 84% of the respondents.
2. 53% identified general logistics such as communications and transport as difficult.
3. Acquisition and distribution of needed commodities and supplies were ranked in the top 3 administrative issues making the job of election officials difficult by 37% of the participants.
4. 26% of the respondents identified understanding the laws, regulations and procedures as a cause of difficulty while the same number of participants included coordination with local administrative authorities among the top 3 problematic issues.
Sources of Information and Instruction
1. Among the top 3 sources of information and instruction, the law and written instructions from the Central Election Commission were each selected by 84% of the respondents while regulations of the Central Election Commission were identified by 68%.
2. In ranking the 3 most helpful sources of information and instruction, 79% of the participants placed the law itself at the top of the list. 16% ranked regulations of the Central Election Commission as the most helpful source.
3. 32% of the participants identified formal training sessions among the most helpful.
4. Instructions from local administrative authorities were identified as helpful by only 5% of the respondents while decisions published in the mass media were perceived as helpful by 11%.
Participants were asked to identify things that contribute most to the success of election commissions. Among their responses were:
- professionalism and competence of their members;
- efficient work of bodies of local self government;
- monitoring of the elections;
- continual communications with regional electoral commissions; and
- training of commission members.
Respondents were also asked what single change could be implemented to improve the administration of the election process. Responses included:
- preparation of a practical manual for Precinct Election Commissions; and,
- formation of Territorial Election Commissions on a permanent basis.