Preliminary conclusions based on results of observation during the Election Day

04 декабря 2007 г.

“GOLOS” Association election monitoring findings on Election Day 4 December, 2007

Around 2500 activists of «GOLOS» Association have been observing voting procedures on over 20 000 polling stations in 38 Russian regions starting from 8 am until the counting of votes was over and final protocols were signed. «GOLOS» was also analyzing messaged received through its hot-line Transparent elections, which were coming throughout Election Day. If citizens left their contacts then, on their permission, «GOLOS» recorded an interview with them and with more detailed information on reported violations. «GOLOS» was also informing the CEC about the most systematic and serious violations through operators of hot line run by Russian Foundation for Free Elections.

Preliminary conclusions based on results of observation during the Election Day

“GOLOS” Association election monitoring findings on Election Day 4 December, 2007

Around 2500 activists of «GOLOS» Association have been observing voting procedures on over 20 000 polling stations in 38 Russian regions starting from 8 am until the counting of votes was over and final protocols were signed. «GOLOS» was also analyzing messaged received through its hot-line Transparent elections, which were coming throughout Election Day. If citizens left their contacts then, on their permission, «GOLOS» recorded an interview with them and with more detailed information on reported violations. «GOLOS» was also informing the CEC about the most systematic and serious violations through operators of hot line run by Russian Foundation for Free Elections.

Types of phone calls on possible violations from December 2 through December 4:

1) 23% — limiting rights of observers/media

2) 22% — illegal campaigning

3) 15% — irregularities with voter lists

4) 15% — other

5) 11% — pressure on voters

6) 9% — violating the secrecy of voting

7) 4% — vote bribery, lotteries, etc.

«GOLOS» Association believes that numerous cases of violations of rights of observers and correspondents (banning them from observing of counting of votes, denying them a copy of the final protocol, stopping them from taking photos and making video recording) decreases the level of trust of the Russian citizens to the results of these elections and makes it impossible to properly observe how the results of the elections are determined.

«GOLOS» is also concerned about the unprecedented amount of absentee ballots issued to voters in these elections. By the official data of the CEC, the number of absentee ballots issues in these elections is several times higher than that in the previous elections. Information on organized collective voting of civil servants and students on polling stations assigned to their workplace or educational institutions drives to the conclusion that these were organized attempts to affect the results of voters’ choice.

The results of both long-term and short-term observation of «GOLOS» indicate that in many Russian regions social workers, civil servants, military servicemen and student have come under a serious administrative pressure. «GOLOS» is also worried that information on similar violations (i.e. collective voting and multiple voting by the same voters) was coming from many regions, which makes «GOLOS» believe that these violations are of systematic character.

«GOLOS» is very alarmed that those officials who violated the procedures of counting of votes are unlikely to be held responsible in a proper way.

«GOLOS» Association also wants to draws public attention to the increased pressure on its employees and activists in the regions. During this election campaign «GOLOS» activists came under pressure in Samara. Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Oriol, Voronezh and other regions. On Election Day using various made-up reasons the authorities detained «GOLOS» correspondents in Tver, Ufa, Voronezh and Karelia. In Petrozavodsk Evgeni Luzgin, correspondent of Civic voice, had to spend a night in custody where the police brought him after he had attempted to document a violation on one of the polling station in the city. On December 3 the police searched the office of «GOLOS» in Karelia and representatives of the Organized Crime Department of the police were interrogating the regional coordinator for 5 hours.

Preliminary conclusions based on results of observation
1) Election administration/organization on Election Day

On Most of the polling station «GOLOS» correspondents observed a good a good organization of the voting procedures in terms the equipment of the polling stations, availability of information on political parties, ballot boxes, etc. In most cases the secrecy of voting was also observed (with some exceptions – see examples). Voting rooms were spacious enough and voting took place in a calm environment and party observers were able observe the procedures. Ballots have an extra protection against forgery and most of the polling sites were equipped in a proper manner, members of electoral commissions were properly trained. The following are minor violations observed on Election day:

• Unbound and unstamped voter lists (though if compared with past campaigns this violation was observed on far fewer polling stations);

• No information on candidates’ income;

• A very frequent violation – two voters voting together in the voting booths;

• In some cases – no proper voting booths at all;

• Lotteries and presents for voters in some regions;

• Inaccuracies in voters’ lists;

• Other individuals except commission members and voters present at polling stations;

and a number of other minor violations, which did not affect the results of elections.

However, almost in all regions, where «GOLOS» conducted observation of the elections, the correspondents noted serious number of violations, which testify the use of various technologies to increase the voters’ turn out as well as direct pressure on citizens to vote.

The major violations, according to Association, were illegal agitation on the E-Day, restriction of the observer’s rights and mass media, illegal voting (one voter could vote at several polling stations), organised voting under pressure.

In particular:
2) Collective voting under pressure, extortion to come to vote, violations of the voting procedures.

For example:

Sverdlovsk region, Yekaterinburg city

PEC # 364 in Yekaterinburg (located in school No.50). There was organised cartage of Lokomotivnoe depot’s employers to the polling station, 25 employers arrived at the polling station at 08.00 a.m. Part of the employers vote under separate lists of voters, which were submitted on the eve by the territorial election committee, and another part – by absentee ballots, which were distributed to them by supervising them senior contractor Mr. Pavilaynen. The senior contractor does not vote himself, but observes how ballots are handed out at the territory of the polling station. At around 10.00 a mobile ballot box is sent to the premises of the Lokomotivnoe depot. The register of the voters, who are voting outside of the polling site station, is written improperly – there is no information when the applications were submitted, who submitted them and passed it, no stamps of the election committee and no signatures of the committee’s chairperson and its secretary. Two members of the election committee were sent to the Lokomotivnoe depot, one observer and a correspondent of “Civil Voice” (Civic voice newspaper), more than 100 ballots were taken, the exact amount is indefinite. According to the information provided by the observer 61 men voted with mobile ballot boxes under absentee ballots (the employers were registered there at the list of the polling station) and under “additional”, committee has information that there were 85 men. The voting was conducted under personal supervision of the manager of the Lokomotivnoe depot – Mr. Meysarov.

Krasnodar region, Krasnodar city

The students with permanent residence at different cities and who are at the moment enrolled at the Slavonic Pedagogical institute were forced to vote in the city, in spite of the fact that they wanted to vote at home. Students intentionally were given off days so that they could travel to their home cities to receive absentee ballots. The absentee ballots were copied and according to these copies the students were registered at various polling stations in the town. Those who wanted to travel home to vote there were not allowed to do that, they were told “you cannot do that – your documents are here now”. As a result, many of them were prohibited to take part at local elections at their resident city address. Those students, who managed to go home were given a questionnaire of invalid sociological center, which was intended, as explained, to find out student’s political activity. Students were forced to receive on these questionnaire signatures and stamps of the polling site commissions at their home town and then submit them to the dean’s office.

Tomskaya oblast, ZATO, Seversk city.

Citizens, which voted before 14.00 were promised to receive gifts (sweets) from the city’s major employee company, for students – travel tickets (it was announced in advance by the local newspapers and leaflets). Sweets were also distributed for those, who voted at home. Managers of the enterprises threatened employers who would not turn out at the elections, that they would lose their bonuses, and some – to fire. The turn out was of 80%. The members of the election committees made notes in separate sheets which flats voted. This information was first collected first by 14–00 p.m., and then approximately by 17.00 and were then distributed to the territorial commission.

Moscow city

Otradnoe region, Moscow city. The parents of children at the school No. #745 were warned in advance to receive absentee ballots and to vote at the selected polling stations. They were threatened that if they do not obey, then their kids will have problems at exams. According to information received at «GOLOS» “hot line” – these citizens’ right for confidential voting was not observed.

Moscow region, Orekhovo-Zuevo

According to the information received at “hot line”, the director of MUP OZ-DEZ ZhKKh Mrs. Dolmatova threatened her employers to fire if they do not turn out at elections. Voronezh city

PEC # 2 (located on Shendrikova str., 7). A voter asked for reference paper that he voted to be able to report to his employer that he voted.

Bryansk city

At Bryansk State University apart from students, who were included in the list of voters, even voters, who were not registered at these stations, were able to vote. The applications to vote at the station’s not under their resident address were written and accepted right there, at the polling site station. Deans of the faculties were present at the halls of the university and made list of students, who voted. At the neighbourhood station located at the same Bryansk University, the supervisor of the medical college dormitory brought students to the polling station and gave detailed instructions on how to vote. According to the announcement of the correspondent, even before the ballot boxes were opened it was evident that the number of the ballots given out to the voters was a lot more than the quantity of the voters registered at the given station.

In nearby polling station at the same Bryansk State University, supervisor of Medical School Dormitory gave detailed instructions to groups of students on how to vote. According to correspondent even before opening ballot boxes it became obvious that amount of ballots given to voters visibly exceeded amount of voters who were registered at this particular electoral district.

«GOLOS» Association states that such methods of influencing voters constitute violation of fundamental principles of Russian elections, enshrined in Russian legislation: Constitutional principles of free elections (Para 3 Art. 3 of Russian Constitution), principle of voluntary (Para 3 Art. 3 of Federal Law “On main guarantees of electoral rights and right on participation in referendum of citizens of Russia). These methods also contradict standard of free election, provided for in international conventions, ratified by Russia: Art. 7.7 Copenhagen Document on Human Dimension OSCE and Art. 8 in Convention on standards of democratic elections, electoral rights and freedoms in states parties to Commonwealth of Independent States.
3) Limitation of observers’ and mass media representatives’ access

For example:

Moscow city

PEC #545: Commission refused to recount votes and observers were forced to leave the polling station.

PEC #1742. At the polling station after it was closed correspondents of “Civic voice” were prohibited from being present by providing explanation that their papers were invalid. During voting at the nearby polling station gifts on behalf of Head of Administration were given away to all voters.

Vladimir region, Vyazniki city

PEC #789. Danilova Irina Vladimirovna, PEC Chair prohibited mass media representative to film at the polling station.

Saint-Petersburg city

PEC # #1215. According to coordinator of correspondents “Civic golos”, Dunaevskaya Elizaveta (correspondent of this newspaper) was denied from witnessing votes count process and even pitched out from the premises due to initiative of Administration an upon decision of observers.

Voronezh city

PEC #1427 (School # 25): Observers did not have chance to monitor process of counting votes.

Astrakhan city

At the entrance of TEC a special list of “permitted individuals” was posted. Representatives of mass media were not allowed into the premises.

Bashkorkostan republic, Ufa city

PECs #141, 171,172,198, 200, 201, 217, 259, 260, 261, 262, 324, correspondents of “Civic voice” were not allowed in the premises of polling stations.

PECs # 94, 171, 172, 200, 201, 261, 262, 282, 379, 400 correspondents of “Civic voice” and other representatives of mass media were forced to leave polling stations during vote tabulation; at many polling stations they were prohibited from taking pictures or filming.

PEC # 253. Correspondent of “Civic voice” Renat Fakiev was forced by police (militia) to leave the polling station and after request towards policeman to identify himself, Renat was detained.

PEC # 283. With involvement of policemen representatives of mass media were removed from the polling station.
4) Violation of vote tabulation procedure

For example:

Veliky Novgorod city

PEC #232 (Federovsky ruchei Street, 19/А. School # 8).

According to message receive through the hot line, PEC members were not coherent during votes’ count, ballots cancellation, handling the lists. Count outcome was not included into protocol form. Record was made after party lists were sorted out. Sorted out ballots were not counted by every PEC member separately, it was done simultaneously by all members; ballots were not manually put in to different piles.

Voronezh city

PEC #1427. At the polling station votes’ count was held without saying out loud certain checkmarks, observers were not given information on checkmarks nor were they allowed to take pictures.

PEC #1739 (Sovetsky district). At this polling station votes’ count was done with out necessary handling the lists.

Moscow city

PEC # 920. During votes’ count light went off for 3–4 minutes.

PEC #2357. Observer reported that after votes’ count he was not given the copy of protocol.

PECs #586, 589 и 590 (Bibirevo district) correspondents were refused in getting authorized copies of final protocol before it was stamped in TEC. Those who expressed their disagreement, were threatened by policemen.

PEC #840. Refusal to authorize protocol by signature and stamp was recorded.

Astrakhan city

PEC #612. Members of PEC refused to stamp and put signature on protocols, that were give to correspondent.

Tatarstan Republic, Kazan city

PEC #166. During votes’ count, votes of “Just Russia” in protocol were placed into volume of “United Russia” votes.

Rostov-on-Don city

There were messages sent to the ’hot line’ that in territorial election commissions of Sovetskiy district all chairmen of district commissions went through cabinet # 211, where they allegedly filled out blank protocols.

Sverdlovsk region, Yekaterinburg city

PEC # 1451. A journalist of a newspaper ’Civic voice’ was denied a copy of protocol. The chairman motivated his decision by the fact that the journalist was present at the territorial district during the process of counting votes as an ‘unofficial’ person.

PEC # 1386 (Pervomayaskaya street, 59). Violation of the procedure of counting votes was reported: the total amount of valid bulletins was not announced; counting of bulletins for this or that party was carried out by all commission members simultaneously without proper announcement.

St. Petersburg city

PEC #1464. Vote counting procedure was not followed – ballots were not placed in separate stacks, the results were not announced every time they should have been publicly stated, there was no final assembly of commission members, the enlarged copy has been taken out of the room several times. There are allegations, that the results were “checked” with someone over the phone.

Bashkortostan republic, Dyurtyuli

s. Mancharovo, Dyurtyulinski district. At 9:40 pm PEC member Suleimanov F.X. called the hot-line to report that a fellow female PEC member has been put in a car and let out 25 km away from her place of residence, because she refused to sign blank protocol.

“GOLOS” Association notes that vote counting procedure in many PECs in majority of regions where election monitoring was carried out had been fulfilled with numerous violations. There were reports that in Bashkortostan there were attempts to deny all media representatives and many observers from being present at the polling stations during vote tabulation process. However, because of the cooperation with CEC through the Russian Foundation for Free Elections, half of «GOLOS» correspondents and most observers could access polling stations. Nevertheless, according to reports from the region, in Neftekamsk city nearly all observers had difficulties obtaining the copy of protocols. Only the active interference of “GOLOS” and partner organizations helped to partially resolve this situation.

The impossibility of the fair count of votes is caused by the fact that the observers were not allowed to be present at the counting process: frequent and continuous complaints received from observers and main office, who were refused by the members of the polling site commissions to give them out, as according to the legislations, copies of the protocols as well as to the representatives of mass media by making an excuse that there were not any copies or they had to be checked with territorial election committees.

According to the Association, the absence of such control and immediate reaction to the violations of the election procedure by the RF Central Election Committee and regional election commission’s leads to the common lose of the citizen’s trust in the election procedure.

Listed below facts, registered during the agitation campaign:

- The general decrease of the level of political competition;

- Administrative pressure on the election process;

- Enforcement of the citizens to receive absentee ballots, and at some occasions –enforcement them to hand in those absentee ballots;

- Unprecedented use of administrative resources during the process of the whole agitation campaign in support of one party and impending to conduct agitation campaign by other parties etc.

These allow Association “GOLOS” to doubt that the election for the RF State DUMA meet internationally accepted general standards of FREE and FAIR elections.