GOLOS sent a draft to the Duma providing for the democratization of electoral legislation
The Human Rights Council of Russia—consisting of Lyudmila Alekseeva, Valery Borshchev, Svetlana Gannushkina, Oleg Orlov, Lev Ponomarev, Alexei Simonov, and Lilia Shibanova—sent an appeal to the Duma for the adoption of the Electoral Code, which was drafted under the auspices of GOLOS Association “in defense of the rights of voters.”
The package of documents consisted of: the appeal, the text of the draft Electoral Code, an explanatory memorandum, the draft federal law “On the Introduction of the Electoral Code of the Russian Federation,” a financial-economic study, and a list of the instruments of federal law that will be recognized as invalid, suspended, modified, or adopted in connection with the adoption of the Electoral Code. These were sent to the Chairman of the Duma and to the leaders of the four Duma factions.
The statement says that the existing electoral legislation is widely recognized as imperfect and undemocratic. The process of its change is now quickly beginning. However, these proposals have featured unbalanced and fragmented characters, which may further exacerbate the existing legal and regulatory shortcomings of the legislation. The draft hereby submitted aims at the systemization of the existing electoral legislation; the elimination of contradictions, gaps, and regulations that allow for ambiguous interpretation found therein; and the elimination of overlapping standards found across different laws. It is designed to make the electoral law and the law on referendums clearer and more easy to use.
At the same time, the draft aims at the democratization of the electoral legislation, thus bringing it in line with the Russian Constitution and with international electoral standards, by way of the following attributes: ensuring voting rights for citizens, eliminating or modifying provisions that impede the country’s democratic development, and restoring provisions that were unjustifiably excluded in recent years.
The drafters urge State Duma deputies to introduce the draft Electoral Code in the Duma as an alternative to current drafts and legislation.
In the words of project manager Arkady Lyubarov:
We have been working on the Code for about three years. We have discussed it at various venues in Moscow, in the regions, and on the internet. The project has received widespread support. The Code contains numerous measures directed at the elimination of arbitrariness and discrimination in the registration of candidates and party lists, including: the restoration of collateral, a reduction in the list of documents required to be submitted, a reduction of the justifications for the “rejection” of signatures, a reduction of the justifications for refusal of registration, and many more.
The draft also fundamentally changes the procedure for the formation of electoral commissions at all levels. Party representation within the commissions should be increased to two thirds, and this proportion is not exclusive to parties that are represented within the Duma. It is also important that the body forming electoral commissions should not be able to choose which party representatives to include and which ones to refuse. This proposed mechanism is flexible. It can work regardless of how many parties there will be.
Other proposed measures include: measures directed against technology “engines,” strengthened measures to guard against fraud, a restoration of the right of public organizations to deploy observers, and a restoration of the opportunity to vote against all candidates or lists.
This makes life easier for regional legislators, who will no longer be required to write long and complex electoral laws and to change them several times each year. And at the same time, they will not be able to create rules that restrict the rights of voters. Regional legislators will retain the right to select many important parameters related to the electoral system, but within a clearly prescribed framework.
Now, when there are calls from all sides for the democratization of the electoral legislation, we say: we have this draft!