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Opinion01 декабря 2021, 15:30
Arkady Lyubarev
Member of the Council of the Golos Movement for Protection of Voter Rights, member of the expert consulting group under the Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Russia
Collage: Ksenia Telmanova

One colleague has said that physicists envy the abundance of numerical information available to electoral researchers. Indeed, there is a lot of information. For example, in the case of the last presidential elections in Russia, there are 18 lines in each of the final protocols (not counting the lines where there are usually zeros), plus separately the data on "mobile voters". The number of precinct commissions is slightly less than 100 thousand. If we round this up to 20 lines and 100 thousand election commissions, we have two million numbers.

Let us take into account that over the past 20 years there have been four electoral cycles. In each there have been two federal campaigns, and at least one regional and one municipal campaign in each municipality and region respectively (actually more). The size of the protocol varied from election to election, but we can assume for simplicity that 20 lines is the average. Let's multiply two million by 16 (four cycles of four campaigns), and we get 32 million numbers. This is a very rough figure, and is most likely an underestimate of the amount of information about the voting results stored in the governmental automatic system „Elections“ (ГАС «Выборы»).

Alas, this vast amount of information remains largely unclaimed by political scientists. There are very few studies based on analysis of Russian electoral statistics. Meanwhile, on the basis of electoral statistics in combination with other data, it is possible to draw conclusions about social processes in the regions, the electoral behaviour of citizens, and the degree of democracy and fairness of elections in different parts of the country.

In this regard, the book "Entertaining Electoral Statistics", which I offer to the reader, has several purposes. First, I strived to show the possibilities offered by electoral statistics research in order to encourage as many qualified and civic-minded citizens as possible to take up such research. The second goal was to demonstrate the methods of electoral statistics analysis in theory and in practice. My third objective was to give an idea of the results which my colleagues and I have already obtained in the course of electoral studies. In other words, the book is conceived as a methodical aid, a reference book, and a scientific report.

The presentation of the material is structured in accordance with this idea. The first chapter describes where and how to obtain electoral statistics. The second chapter describes the final protocols of election commissions, and shows what primary information can be extracted from them. The third chapter is devoted to various methods of researching electoral statistics. The fourth chapter shows the results of the analysis, namely the statistics of various electoral indicators, mainly on the scale of the whole country. And the fifth chapter presents specific results for eight separate regions.

The book could not have been born without the help of many of my colleagues, with whom I discussed the issues of electoral statistics at various seminars and round tables, in the process of joint work, or in the course of correspondence. I am extremely grateful to all of them. Here I would like particularly to mention those colleagues who provided their graphs for the book: Andrei Buzin, Azat Gabdulleev, Boris Ovchinnikov, and Sergei Shpilkin. And also Valentin Mikhailov and again Andrey Buzin, who read the manuscript and shared with me valuable comments.

I hope the book will interest the reader and stimulate the development of research on electoral statistics.

What my colleagues and academics think of the book

Andrey Buzin, PhD in Law, PhD in Physics and Mathematics: 

This book can be used as a guide to Russian elections. It gives an insight into the extent to which election commissions operate in an open and transparent manner, and the extent to which we can trust the official figures. The book will be of use not only to sensible Russians, who will find in it new incentives to participate in elections as voters and observers, but also to members of electoral commissions, prosecutors, and judges, who may learn from it the absurdity of some election results. At the same time, they can learn that the laws of nature (in particular, statistics) cannot be changed by the decisions of the state authorities.

Yuriy Korgunyuk, Doctor of Political Science, PhD in History:

This book is a real encyclopaedia of electoral statistics of post-Soviet Russia. You will find not only a detailed analysis of all aspects and varieties of electoral statistics, but also practical advice for novice researchers on where to find such information and how to work with it. Considerable attention is also paid to the methods of research work with electoral statistics, with a review of all significant achievements in this field.

Valentin Mikhailov, Doctor of History, PhD in Physics and Mathematics:

This is a thorough, fact-rich introduction to the specifics of Russian elections, drawing on the work of experts from various countries, above all from Russia. The author provides convincing evidence that election results are subject to a large number of patterns, many of which are sensitive to and clearly demonstrate administrative interference, and is an invitation to researchers who will find here a wide field for creative work.

The book can be bought on ozon.ru. 

Мнение выражает личную позицию автора и может не совпадать с позицией движения «Голос».