Golos Movement Calls for Preliminary Discussion of Typical Election Day Problems with Election Commissions and Police
Based on the many years of election monitoring, Golos Movement would like to draw the attention of election planners and law enforcement agencies to the typical problems that regularly arise on the day of election. It would be expedient to proactively make provisions for resolving these issues via special instructions from the Central Election Commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. It would also be useful for the regional election commissions to discuss the controversial issues with election monitors ahead of time to forestall the problems on voting day.
One can easily predict the problems that may arise on the election day in the process of monitoring. Let us outline them.
- The issue of moving around the voting premises. The law does not forbid this movement. Sometimes it is simply necessary, when the observer wants to make sure that the correct voting ballot was issued, or to take a closer look at the documents. However, the heads of the polling station commissions often try to forbid such movements, accusing the public observers of hindering or even “interfering” in the commission’s work.
- The issue of photo and video recording. Such actions are clearly permitted by law for the public observers and journalists, but the law doesn’t say anything about other citizens, such as the members of election commissions. Moreover, the law places no restrictions on shooting locations for the journalists, while the election commissions unlawfully extend this restriction from the public observers to everyone else. At the same time, the commissions encourage numerous voter selfie contests at the polling stations.
- The problem of certain candidates’ portraits posted near the voting premises. This is a regular problem during presidential and regional head elections, because the commissions hesitate to make decisions on this issue, while tenacious observers interpret this as propaganda and inequality of candidates’ rights.
- The issue of voters’ right to leave with the ballot. It doesn’t say anywhere that this cannot be done, but in some election commissions the conflict gets close to fistfights.
- The problem of allowing public observers to review the commission documents. The law envisions such option for the public observers, but instructions for the election commissions provide no specifics for the procedure of review, often leading to conflicts at the voting stations.
- The issue of accepting complaints and stamping marks of receipt on the copies. The law stipulates the commissions’ obligation to review the complaints, but in practice the acceptance and review of complaints regularly fail to happen. One notable detail: the complaints submitted to the polling station commissions not only fail to be reflected in the Vybory State Automated System, but often don’t even make it to the higher-ranking commissions and receive no mentions in their protocols.
- The problem of removing the public observers from the voting premises. Since the newly-stipulated procedure for removing public observers under court orders is not prescribed in any detail, skilled election planners can circumvent this so-called “moratorium on removal” by using assistance of the police, who can follow unlawful orders of the commission chairmen and restrain the public observers and take them to the police stations under flimsy pretexts such as “for violation of public order,” “to draw up a protocol,” “for examination” or even “for failure to conform to policeman’s demands,” or at least demand that the observers follow them to the police station.