Appeal to the State Duma to change the electoral law

13 февраля 2012 г.

Below is the text of the address that was sent yesterday to Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin and to heads of the various Duma factions: Andrey Vorobyev, Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Sergey Mironov. A list of signatories and supporters of the address will be delivered separately.

Dear gentlemen,

The existing electoral legislation is widely recognized as imperfect and undemocratic. The process of its change is now quickly beginning. In the State Duma, a number of relevant bills have already been introduced, and several other drafts are nearly ready to be introduced. However, these proposals have featured unbalanced and fragmented characters, which may further exacerbate the existing legal and regulatory shortcomings of the legislation.

Since the adoption of the Constitution, domestic electoral legislation has not been governed by a unified logical framework, or reconciled in the legal sense. The legislation changes constantly, often for sake of expediency. The idea of replacing the several separate federal laws with an electoral code has been repeatedly proposed as a means of overcoming these shortcomings. While the Russian Parliament and the Central Election Commission have spoken about this, they have not acted on it. The electoral legislation has changed in recent years due to continuous editing. Not only is codification required, but complex reform as well.

In this context, leading experts in the fields of elections and electoral legislation, under the auspices of GOLOS Association—an NGO aimed at “protecting the rights of voters”—along with a wide range of experts and members of the community, have developed a draft of the Electoral Code of the Russian Federation. The project has been broadly discussed in Moscow and the regions, and has received widespread support from the experts.

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 most important provisions of the draft Electoral Code are as follows:

• Mechanisms for the registration of candidates and party lists in order to eliminate arbitrariness and discrimination;
• A flexible procedure for the formation of election commissions, ensuring that representatives of political parties are given the majority of commission seats, and eliminating discrimination against parties for political reasons;
• The ability to block parties;
• A mixed electoral system for the State Duma elections (similar to the German system, but with Russian characteristics) with a 3% barrier, thus ensuring the proportional representation of parties and excluding excess representation by the majority, while at the same time preserving opportunities for self-nominated candidates;
• Measures directed against technology “engines;"
• Restoration of the opportunity to vote against all candidates or lists;
• Restoration of independent public monitoring; and
• The strengthening of measures directed against the possibility of rigging the vote.

Given all of these arguments, we urge you to submit the attached draft of the Electoral Code of the Russian Federation to the State Duma on your behalf as an alternative to those drafts submitted by the President of the Russian Federation and by individual State Duma deputies. We further urge you to support the adoption of the draft.