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AnalysisInnovationsRussian Federation12 March 2024, 15:38
Stanislav Andreichuk
Member of the Council of the Golos movement, regional expert
Collage: Ksenia Telmanova

The Russian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) recently announced that this year it will be possible to observe Remote Electronic Voting (REV, also known as DEG in Russian) in a way that has never been possible before. Let's try to get to the bottom of whether this statement is true, and if so, how does online voting work in general?

I'll simplify things, but I'll address the main questions. Let's start with the main one.


Is it possible to monitor the DEG? If not, why not?

Not possible, because there's no point in watching the numbers the screen shows if you don't know where those numbers come from. In order to understand this, you need to see the code, but no one except the developers of the system has seen it. They say that everything there is built on blockchain, but some evidence suggests that if blockchain is there, it is not in everything. Experience also shows that programmers can interfere in the work of the system right in the course of voting - and without any real legislative regulation of this activity.


How is the DEG organized? What is the difference between the Moscow and federal DEGs? 

There are two DEG systems in Russia: Moscow and federal. Both will be in use during the presidential election.

The public knows close to nothing about the federal system, and a little more about the Moscow system. Perhaps that's why the loudest scandals were related to the Moscow system.

What is clear is that these two systems operate in differing ways. For example, the Moscow DEG system first decodes every vote cast, which makes it work very slowly - often slower than regular electoral commissions.


What principle was used to select the regions where it was decided to conduct the DEG in these presidential elections?

The Russian CEC stated last year that only those regions that already had such experience would take part in the DEG at the presidential election. However, two regions from that list are not participating in the DEG - the Tula and Orenburg regions, because they failed to register themselves - and one of those participating still has no experience so far - the Vologda region, which is home to more than 900,000 voters.

The distribution of the regions itself is also interesting - among them there were mostly regions like Moscow or the Irkutsk Region, which are problematic for the authorities, meaning regions where they have been less successful with regular falsifications. But there are no so-called "electoral sultanates" – regions where the authorities already get the results they want with rgular falsifications.


Why is coercion to register the DEG a violation? What practices of coercion are there?

Any coercion to participate in elections is a violation that leads to administrative and sometimes criminal liability. Nonetheless, coercion to register to vote in the DEG is happening all around Russia. It is time to give up the myth that only civil servants are being coerced into the DEG, as it's clear that individuals from various sectors of the economy are coerced into it. People are forced to register in the DEG themselves and to bring their family members and their colleagues, acquaintances, etc. - as in the worst examples of network marketing. Statistics also show that the largest proportion of those who vote online do so on Friday morning, i.e. at their workplaces during working hours, directly under the control of their bosses.

What share of votes can be "drawn" thanks to the DEG?

In the 29 regions where the DEG will be held, 48 million voters live, which is about 40% of the total number. Of course, not all of them will vote online. The exception is Moscow, where even if you come to a regular polling station you will meet a terminal for electronic voting. In the rest of the regions, the majority will still vote on paper.

Judging by the rate of registration in the DEG system, about 10-15 million people will eventually vote electronically. That is, there will be a basket of about 10-15 million absolutely non-transparent and uncontrolled votes. The authorities will get another 20-25 million votes in "electoral sultanates". Apparently, the figures they want to achieve in the headquarters of candidate Vladimir Putin are about 55-60 million votes. As you can see, under such circumstances, this is a fairly simple and quite achievable task.

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