The regions where voting began on September 9 were joined by several other territories on Saturday. Voting for the elections of governors and deputies to legislative assemblies started on Saturday in North Ossetia-Alania, Kirov and Tomsk oblasts. Voting also started in Kirov Oblast for the Kirov City Duma elections.
The Golos movement is conducting short-term observation in 19 regions. Voting is monitored for its compliance with international and Russian standards for free expression of the will and is based on data received from the regions from participants and organizers of voting, observers and media representatives, through various channels, including the hotline 8 800 500 54 62, the Map of Violations, media, Internet, social media, and messengers.
On the second day of voting, September 10, Golos received 149 reports to the hotline (the total hotline call time 10 hours 56 minutes), and 239 reports to the Map of Violations and other telecom channels.
The top five regions by the number of the reports on possible violations submitted to the Map of Violations on the second day of voting were:
The regions submitting the most reports to the Map of Violations throughout the election campaign period currently are:
Anomalies in turnout rates and coercion to vote
On the second day, there was a sharp decrease in remote e-voting (REV), which can only be explained by the administrative mobilization of voters on the first, working, day of voting. The REV played a major role in this. In Moscow as of 8 p. m. on Friday, September 9, 1,006,499 voters had received their ballots online, while as of the same time on Saturday, September 10, there were only 438,453 more voters (1,444,952 in total). Only 387,617 voters voted in the traditional way in Moscow over the two days.
The turnout also differs significantly across Moscow. The highest rates are concentrated in the Eastern Administrative District of Moscow, especially in the districts of Nekrasovka, Vostochny village, and Kosino-Ukhtomsky.
In other regions, the tendency was basically the same: in Kaliningrad Oblast, 11,235 people voted remotely on September 9 and 1,700 on September 10; in Kursk Oblast, 3,794 on September 9 and 1,245 on September 10; in Novgorod Oblast, 5,030 and 914 respectively; in Pskov Oblast, 8,686 and 698 respectively; and in Yaroslavl Oblast, 25,652 and 2,709.
There is also direct evidence of voter coercion from different regions.
For example, independent observers from Tomsk report that «controlled voting» takes place at some polling stations. At polling station #13, two voters who are employees of a kindergarten asked to be photographed for their employer’s report. Public Chamber observers helped them to take photos. Employees of the Samuska Lyceum in Tomsk Oblast were also asked to «report voting in the chat». According to the observers, the employees were obliged to vote on September 10.
In Moscow, the administration of the Ivanov-Kramskoi Children’s Music School reportedly forced teachers to vote online, threatening with sanctions: those who do not vote or report voting need to provide an explanation to the school administration. Similar message about people being forced to vote online strictly till 11.30 a. m. on September 9 came from an employee of Moscow‘s Repin Painting School. In Moscow’s Sokolniki, voters at polling station #1270 asked for a certificate that they had voted. Another voter at the neighbouring PEC 1273 told a commission member that her supervisor «did not see her among those who voted remotely». The voter was very frightened. The commission member informed her supervisor by phone that, according to the electronic list, this voter had voted by REV, and reported the date and time of voting along with the voter’s name. At PEC 1465 in Maryino, Moscow, a voter photographed putting her ballot into the ballot box with a comment «for work». Observers from this polling station reported that the flow of voters under coercion here was constant, and the chairman and secretary of the commission even had to issue such voters a certificate with the stamp of the commission. Similar reports of coercion came from other places in Moscow.
In Krasnodar Krai, reports are coming in about the coercion of public-sector employees to vote for specific candidates by the deputy head of Yeisk, Yury Kovrov.
In Ryazan Oblast, the following instruction was distributed to the chief doctors as early as September 8: «Dear colleagues! Information about the employees of your organizations who voted on September 9, 10 and 11 should be sent to me via Whatsapp at 8 910 5032476 (alternatively, by a voice report at 8 910 6410363 or (4912)281931). Reports should be sent daily by 1 p. m. and 5 p. m. Form: the target/number of voters by the time of report. Further with cumulative totals. (EXAMPLE: by 1 p. m. 222/111, then by 5 p. m. 222/155, etc.) KUCHKIN Y. L.» Kuchkin, Yuriy Livovich, is a head of mobilization work department of the Ministry of Health of Ryazan region.
Home voting issues
Reports of home voting-related issues came from Moscow, Udmurtia, Krasnodar Krai, and Kemerovo, Kirov, Leningrad, Pskov, and Sakhalin oblasts.
In Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, a communist went out in a one-man protest and demanded that the head of the local election commission stop the fraud or resign. The CPRF (Communist Part) reported that party observers had been refused to be taken to the home voting. According to the Communists, members of the Sakhalin PECs returned from apartments after a short time with full boxes of ballots. For example, members of precinct commission #70 visited 112 voters in a few hours.
Observers in Pskov Oblast also reported anomalous home voting at many polling stations in the region. Some polling stations added more than 100 people or so to the registers. For example, such was the situation at PEC 165 (100 voters), PEC 302 (113 voters), and PEC 375 (95 voters). 50 people were added on September 10 alone at PEC 304, and 69 people at PEC 165. These are all homebound voters. As a result, according to the Pskov Oblast Election Commission, 70,719 voters had voted in the municipal elections by 8 p. m. on September 10 in the region, out of them 21,389 (30%) by mobile voting. 9,384 more voters voted online, which is not counted in these figures; that is, just over 61% of those who took part in the elections voted directly inside the standard PEC premises.
At the same time, it turns out that voters and their representatives had not applied for mobile voting. There were recorded cases when voters who allegedly had asked to come to their homes due to illness or poor health either were not aware that they had applied for home voting (PEC 299), or were at work and the commission went there[V1] to find them (PEC 303). There were also frequent cases when voters who allegedly had applied for home voting came to vote at the polling station, knowing nothing about the fact that they had requested voting at home.
Voter applications prepared for voting had pre-filled voters’ passport data (e. g. PEC 299). The registers were printed on a computer rather than written by hand, contrary to the register keeping procedure provided for in Federal Law #67 (PEC 165, PEC 447, PEC 133, etc.).
Similar situations of mass voting «at home» in a short period occurred in Krasnodar Krai. For example, home voting at PEC 4604 in Sochi was held on the first day of voting, September 9, from 10 to 12 a. m. In two hours, about 150 people «voted». Chairman of the commission Svetlana Zubakova refused to answer the questions of the CPRF candidate’s proxy, summoned the police and expelled him from the polling station. She also refused to show acts of mobile voting and the register of mobile voters. At PEC 277 in Anapa, the illegal inclusion of home voters in the register was also recorded.
Restrictions on the rights of citizens to monitor the work of election commissions
During September 10, the Golos’s Map of Violations received 85 reports of violations of the rights of commission members, observers and media representatives from 12 regions: Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Khakassia, Krasnodar Krai, Kemerovo, Moscow, Pskov, Samara, Saratov and Yaroslavl oblasts, and Moscow City. Moscow was the leader, with 50 reports, followed by Krasnodar Krai with 20.
In most cases, the reports were about civic observers being denied access to the documents, not allowed to move around the polling station, or to take pictures and videos.
The most typical reports of violation of the rights of civic observers included:
Unfortunately, despite the legal prohibition, there are cases of observers being expelled from polling stations. The police expelled an observer Kseniya Tamurka from the PEC 47 in Zamoskvorechye TEC and detained her for some time as part of an investigation into a criminal complaint under Article 141 of the Criminal Code for obstructing the work of election commissions, and then released. There are cases when observers were rudely removed from PECs after the end of voting and registration of relevant voting certificates (PEC 2648 of Mozhaiskiy District of Moscow).
The abolition of the status of a non-voting commission member at PECs has complicated procedures for the appointment of observers. Candidates and parties had to resort to entrusting observation at polling stations to their proxies. This shows high demand for a non-bureaucratised procedure of delegating representatives to polling stations; initiated by the Russian CEC, the abolition of the status of a non-voting commission member is thus contrary to the interests of the main electoral actors. It has caused numerous conflicts between PEC members and proxies over the authority of the latter (for example, PEC 3056 of Stupino District TEC, and PEC 2284 of Lomonosov District TEC). In the city of Lermontov, Stavropol Krai, Andrei Fokin, a proxy of candidate Kardash at PEC 725, was arrested for 7 days after having filed allegations of violations at the polling station. The statement of the Chairman of the CEC of Russia provoked a new surge of conflicts.
Often, the actions of PEC and TEC members lead to completely unjustified prohibitions by commissions against proxies and observers, create nervousness in polling stations, significantly increase the risk of complaints about violations of the rights of observers and proxies, and undermine trust in the elections.
A typical example occurred at PEC 2373 in the Teply Stan district of Moscow: an observer was accused of disobeying police and slander, according to the Avtozak LIVE telegram channel. ZAKS. RU reports on his arrest. While the reason for filing a first protocol was a report to the hotline of Golos, the second one was composed due to the observer’s refusal to move to another chair. Previously, the same commission reportedly tried to expel a candidate’s proxy from the polling station. The argument of the commission members was that the person in question had no right to be present at the polling station until an «emergency situation» occurred.
In Pskov, Dmitry Yanturayev, a proxy of the Yabloko party, was detained and taken to the Pskov district police station for filing a protocol due to hindering the work of the commission.
Ballot security issues
Ballot security is of paramount importance, given the practice of multiple voting in the regions. However, reports to the Map of Violations show serious systemic shortcomings in this area.
For example, at the TEC in Chekhov city of Moscow region, sorting envelopes with early voting ballots for candidate I. Sobolev revealed traces of illegal opening. A complaint was filed demanding the invalidation of the ballots, but the territorial commission sent the envelopes to the precinct commissions before making a decision on the appeal.
In Omsk, according to «foreign agent» Taiga. info, the territorial and precinct election commissions use iron boxes with removable bottoms to store the early voting ballots, which leaves space for unauthorized access. Andrei Alyokhin, deputy of the State Duma of Omsk Oblast, sent statements to the CEC and the regional election commission demanding that the results of early voting be cancelled.
In the village of Stekhnovo, Novorzhevsk district, Pskov Oblast, a proxy for the Yabloko party discovered that the safe where ballots from previous voting days were stored was not locked. The commission had to wrap the safe with tape, including overnight storage, while during the day the safe was open.
In the village of Novy Russkii Syugail of Mozhginsky district of Udmurtia region, PEC 2625 was marked by a series of violations. For example, before the polling station opened on September 10, the PEC chairman ordered to open the safe box with the ballots of September 9 voting and to draw up a new report, explaining this by the need to correct the data on the number of ballots. However, according to point 3.5 of the CEC Resolution, the voting members of PECs shall move the ballots into safe bags without counting the ballots and keeping the secrecy of voting. In violation of legal requirements, the safe for ballots was located outside the voting premises, and the observer was denied copies of the attached forms.
At PEC 976 in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast, while putting the remote voting ballots into the safe bags, the indicating tape, which should signal unauthorized access by showing visual signs of tampering, was torn off. Members of the election commission neither signed the safe bag nor filled the attached form.
Overall, on September 10, the Map of Violations received 19 reports regarding problems with safe bags, two of them related to the early voting. Eight complaints were filed; in six cases, an official response was received.
According to a report of the observer, 45 voters voted at the polling station #916 of Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai, on September 9. However, the report published on the website of the Central Election Commission shows a figure of 524 voters for that day, almost a third of them at this polling station, a figure 11 times higher than that recorded by the civic observer. Despite repeated demands of the observer, the commission refused to provide relevant documents for this voting day. Unreliable data were thus submitted to the CEC, which may indicate preparation for falsification of results at the PEC.
One of the most scandalous cases was documented on video at PEC 901 in Gelendzhik where CPRF candidate Ilona Grachevskaya and observers discovered a pile of folded ballots marked for United Russia, covered by a deputy chair of the commission who was sitting on them.
Golos draws attention to the situation in Gelendzhik, where a large number of reports are coming in, which gives rise to suspicions of large-scale fraud in the elections to the Regional Legislative Assembly in this electoral district.