Statement of the Chairperson of the CEC of Russia at the CTC meeting on 23 March 2018

23.03.2018

Dear Colleagues!

According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, referendum and free elections are the supreme direct expressions of the power and will of the people. In this case, both our society and international community can recognize elections as fair and free and accept the voting returns only if the elections are truly competitive, transparent and legitimate, and the result should be calculated reliably.

From the very first day our work and work of all election commissions was focused on these core objectives. The Presidential elections that took place on 18 March, 2018, fully met these standards.

In terms of competitiveness

While in 2012 seven political parties had the right to participate in the Presidential elections, this year, 67 parties were given the opportunity to take part in the election campaign. In total, 36 persons were nominated, of which 8 were registered as candidates.

Compared to 2012, almost all unjustified and unnecessary barriers to participation of candidates in the elections were removed. The number of signatures that candidates from non-parliamentary parties were required to collect was reduced from 2 million to 100,000, and the number of signatures to be collected by self-nominated candidate was reduced to 300,000. Let me repeat: the number of signatures for parties’ candidates was reduced by 20 times, and for self-nominated candidates – by almost 7 times. The reduction was rather substantial, perhaps even too substantial, but the legislative authorities took such unprecedented measures.

We regret that some candidates who violated the law in the past could not participate in the election by virtue of electoral legislation. However, firstly, this is a norm of Federal law which the CEC of Russia is obliged to obey, and which is not exclusive for the Russian Federation and can be found in international practice.

Secondly, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is the only body empowered to interpret the Constitution. And this is the body that indicated that restriction of passive electoral capacity of persons who had committed serious or particularly serious offences was a measure aimed to prevent undermining of social support and legitimacy of public authorities. The constitutionally significant objectives of this measure were to increase the responsibility and effectiveness of the principles of a democratic legal state, to preserve the public order and to prevent the criminalization of power.

Here, I consider debate on the topic is over. Its discussion is only political speculation, unjustified legally or even logically.

So, as I have previously mentioned, 8 candidates submitted their documents for registration and, upon verification, were registered by the CEC of Russia and included in the voting paper.

We keep hearing from representatives of some movements, mostly from outside the borders of our state, that the candidates did not represent a good cross-section of our society. It’s a very strange maxim, I must say. Almost all political parties participating in the elections to the State Duma took part in the election of the President of the Russian Federation either by nominating their candidates or by supporting one of the candidates. What groups or parts of the political spectrum of society were not represented?

Let me give you a few simple examples based on the data of the Election State Automated System (GAS Vybory): apart from representation in the State Duma, the Russian Communist Party (CPRF) forms part of the state or local government authorities in all 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the nationalist Liberal Democrats (LDPR) – in 84 constituent entities, the Communists of Russia – in 29 constituent entities, Yabloko – in 25 constituent entities, Partiya Rosta – in 15 constituent entities, the Russian National Unity – in 3 constituent entities, and the Civil Initiative – in one constituent entity.

What other real, not virtual, forces did not participate in the elections? This is a rhetorical question. It seems that by alleging that the elections were not competitive someone wants, dare I say it, to spit water at all supporters of the parties and candidates that I have mentioned.

All candidates had the opportunity to transmit their election programmes and views on key social and political matters to the voters. Indeed, according to the legislation, TV and radio companies are obliged to inform the voters of the activities of public authorities and officials, including the President of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, all candidates were given free broadcasting time on national and regional state TV and radio channels. During the election campaign, the total free broadcasting time on each of the eight federal TV and radio channels was 17 hours, and on each of the regional channels was 8.5 hours. Meanwhile, candidate Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin refused to use a part of the free broadcasting time.

In regards the freedom of press

In order to inform every voter about the election and his/her rights and means to exercise them, the CEC of Russia launched a large-scale information campaign in cooperation with the state and local government authorities, and with the support of socially responsible business.

Here are some indicators. The information banners of the CEC of Russia were placed in more than 70 thousand locations. Information clips of the CEC of Russia were broadcast on federal television channels for almost 84 hours and on radio channels for 33 hours. During this time, the clips were shown on television more than 8 thousand times, or broadcast on radio 4.5 thousand times.

The total audience in the Internet made up to 40 million users, while the audience of social networks during the last week before the election made up 2.5 million.

Even if a voter did not leave the house, did not watch TV, did not listen to the radio and did not have a computer, members of district election commissions came to him and told about elections. For this purpose, the term of these commissions was extended from 10 to 30 days.

As a result, we really reached every voter. According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), the number of those who were not aware of the election was only one percent.

And even those, who criticized the election commissions for lack of information on the elections, for some reason changed their opinions and began to talk about too active information campaign, in their view.

For the first time in the history of the elections of the President of the Russian Federation, the CEC of Russia organized an Information and Reference Centre, which began its work right from the start of the election campaign.

The voters from Russia could contact the Centre by calling the toll free multichannel number 8-800, and Russian citizens living abroad could contact the Centre by calling direct Moscow number. We did not even expect that the Centre would be so popular and that so many voters would call to ask questions about the voting procedure or provisions of election legislation, or to find out more information about their polling stations.

Some figures to describe the electorate’s interests. In total, the Centre received 1.4 million calls, 235,000 of which were processed by operators, and the rest were processed in the robot-assisted mode. On the daily basis, the Centre received up to 30,000 calls.

The CEC of Russia introduced a new mechanism of voting in the place of stay, which allowed voters who had been living out of their permanent places of residence for a long time to take part in elections at the polling stations that were convenient for them. Earlier, when absentee voting certificates were used, people had to return to the places of their registration (permanent residence), which implied high expenditure of time and money.

Eventually, 411,000 persons filed applications for voting at the places of staying to territorial election commissions, 2.7 million persons filed applications to district election commissions, 935,000 persons applied through the multifunctional centres for the provision of state and municipal services (MFC), and 1.6 million applications were filed via the Federal State Information System “Public Services (Functions) Portal of the Russian Federation”. In total, almost 5.7 million applications were filed between 45 and 5 days before the voting day, and 266,000 special applications were submitted by voters to the district election commissions at the place of residence.

In developing the new voting mechanism, the CEC of Russia made particular efforts in preventing cruise voting, the so-called “carrousels”, which were constantly exploited for speculative political purposes when absentee voting certificates were used. To this end, we invited representatives of political parties and expert community to take part in discussion of this voting mechanism. As a result, the Election State Automated System (GAS Vybory) accepted only the first application filed by a voter, and informed the district election commissions on all subsequent attempts of the voter to file another application.

The information on applications filed to the district election commissions via the Internet was as transparent and open as possible, so that candidates and monitoring bodies knew in advance to which polling stations they should send their observers.

In addition, to quell any attempts of repeated voting was introduced serious administrative responsibility for it, and criminal liability for its organization.

At the same time, it is clear that there is no perfect system, insured from human factor mistakes, especially when it incorporates more than 90 thousand district commissions.

And we found it truly strange to know that a member of one of the territorial election commissions, who by virtue of his duties was supposed to ensure strict compliance of the procedure established by the CEC of Russia, pounced on possible errors in the work and voted twice. An analogy could be drawn in that connection with a bank employee, who taking advantage of his official position steals money from the bank, or with a law enforcement officer, who in order to defeat crime, joins a gang. I believe, that such individuals should not have a place in the electoral system.

We will carefully study this case and will continue to improve the voting mechanism to prevent such actions in the future.

Speaking about law-abiding citizens, I can say that, according to the reports from the election commissions of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, about 5 million or 84 percent of the total number of applications were filed with the use of the "mobile voter".

Compared to the absentee voting certificates, at the presidential election in 2012 of they were used by 1.6 million voters or by 74 percent of those who obtained them, and in the 2008 they were used by 1.3 million or 68 percent of voters who obtained them.

Thus, this mechanism allowed us to attract additionally 4 million voters to the polling stations.

It is very interesting to read comments and assumptions created out of thin air by some experts, that this mechanism was alleged use by employers to control the voting. In reality, migration between the constituent entities was more than 37 percent, and migration between cities and regions within one entity was 38 percent, and only 25 percent of took absentee voting certificates to vote at different polling station, but within the same municipal structure. In the latter case, it also be caused by objective reasons – people simply selected the most convenient polling station.

The CEC of Russia in cooperation with state authorities had made great efforts to ensure that disabled people have access to polling stations. The number of polling stations with voting premises located on the ground floors of buildings increased threefold. The number of polling stations with public information boards and stands that displayed information in large print and (or) in Braille print considerably increased too.

On the initiative of the expert community, the CEC of Russia settled the issues of providing delivery of voters from remote locations or from continuous production enterprises to the polling stations by state, municipal or private transport. Previously, we had fair questions from candidates and political parties concerning such voters.

But what do we hear from some critics? They interpret the adherence to these recommendations of the CEC of Russia as a violation. We believe that they need a kind of “legislative education programme” to understand that violation is when delivery of voters is provided by candidates. They also should study international practice when, at the US elections, delivery of voters by political activists is almost a common practice, and some observers claim that buses carry people from one polling station from another.

But let’s get back to Russia. As a result of the measures taken by the CEC of Russia the number of voters who voted outside the polling stations decreased from 5.9 million in 2012 to 4.8 million this year.

On the other hand, no matter who say what, a large number of real people came to the polling stations voluntarily, and expressed his/her will in secret. And no paid speculations about violations of free participation in elections will not change that. Let's look at the voting abroad. The highest number of voters took part in the elections there - over 470 thousand.




Did someone make all these people to wait in queues in front of the polling stations in the context of unwillingness of some countries to help us to organize the voting, to put in mildly? I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the election there took place under the control of Western media and observers representing completely different political views. At the same time, the results of the elections at these polling stations do not differ much from the results in the territory of the Russian Federation.

We can see similar pictures taken at the polling stations all over Russia.





Thereby, those alleging that the election was not free, actually spit on 73.5 million voters who took part in the elections.

Transparency

The CEC of Russia had devoted much effort to ensure the presence of observers, members of commissions with the right of consultative vote and representatives of mass media at the polling stations. Ahead of the electoral campaign, the existing law was amended so that not only candidates, but also public chambers which accumulate representatives of different public organizations

On the eve of the election campaign, changes were made to the legislation allowing observers to be sent not only by candidates, but also by public chambers, to which representatives of different public organizations were gathered. This made it possible to detach from the ingenious scheme when public observers pretended to be representatives of mass media.

Hundreds of candidates’ trustees could send as observers without any advance notice to the election commissions. This process was absolutely free, which sometimes resulted in a confusion, between several observers nominated by the same candidate.

We provided support even to observers representing our greatest critics. We asked for assistance in the maintenance of security of the so-called Navalny observers in the Chechen Republic, where they were completely free to present at the voting and vote count.

As a result, according to our sources, 356,000 observers were present at the polling stations, of which more than 157,000 observers represented public chambers, more than 105,000 were members of commissions with the right of consultative vote and almost 15,000 were accredited media representatives. In other words, we had 5 observers per polling station.

In what other country in the world is it so easy to become an observer at polling station? In some states of the USA, representatives of the candidate are not admitted to voting premises during the vote count process, and in England they need to get accredited in advance.

The Presidential Election in the Russian Federation was attended by 1,513 foreign (international) observers from 115 countries worldwide from very different international organizations, including the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OBCE ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Executive Committee and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) and many others.

For reference: in 2012, the election process was monitored by 685 foreign observers from 58 countries.

However, it is distressing to note that reports of some international organizations contain very little information from their own observers who were present at the polling stations, but much more general assumptions on the basis of unverified information and reports tailored to pre-determined conclusions.

On the day of voting, observers presented at the polling stations were joined by 1.5-million people who monitored the election using video cameras (live image).

They could follow the progress of the voting and vote counting process at more than 43,000 polling stations equipped with video surveillance facilities, where about 80 percent of the electorate voted. For the first time in the history, the voting process in 2 775 territorial election commissions, including the processing of protocols and preparation of summarized tables, was broadcasted live over the Internet. That is, the entire process of voting, counting of votes and determining the results of voting in the district election commission, and delivery of the protocol to the territorial commission were viewed by the cameras and broadcasted online on the Internet.

You can hardly find examples of such openness and transparency in international practice.

Reliability

During the election campaign the CEC of Russia devoted special attention to ensuring the reliable counting of votes and determination of election results. To this end, the CEC of Russia purchased additional complexes for the processing of voting papers, which increased the number of technical means used to calculate votes from 5,500 to 13,500, or by 2.5 times. The new optical scan voting systems (OSVS) were tested in the elections of the deputies of the Tver City Duma in September 2017 and were highly appreciated.

It should be noted, that the OSVS were always trustworthy and highly demanded by candidates who asked to install them in the maximum possible number of polling stations. In accordance with the established procedure, before the voting the OSVS must be tested in the presence of commission members and observers, and admitted to use only in case of successful test. If they fail to pass the test, then, according to the decision of district election commission, the votes can be counted manually. Such cases were recorded during this election campaign as well.

In this regard, it seems bizarre to us that there are some voices suggesting that the optical scan voting systems functioned incorrectly. Moreover, the counting of votes at similar polling stations gives a result similar to that of manual counting.

In order to avoid mistakes in protocol on the results of voting issued by the district election commission and incorrect data entry into the Election State Automated System (GAS Vybory), as well as increase the speed of entering and posting of voting results on the Internet at each polling station on not equipped with touch-screen voting machines and electronic voting complexes, a machine-readable format of protocol was used. As a result, by 4 am on March 19, 2018, we managed to enter in the GAS "Vybory" and to place on the Internet nearly 100 percent of the protocols, whereas in the elections to the State Duma in 2016 the figure was 58.2 percent.

To specify the electoral registers, the CEC of Russia and lower-level election commissions in cooperation with state and local government bodies for the first time carried out extensive work to delete the so-called "dead souls", twice registered voters and voters outside the territory of the Russian Federation from the electoral registers. So that no one even thought of voting for an absent voter.

As a result of this work, the number of voters included in the electoral registers decreased by 2 million compared to the election of deputies of the State Duma in 2016.

During the election campaign, the CEC of Russia paid special attention to the prompt investigation of complaints, primarily, for the administrative resource. To this effect, information on possible violations, including that received by the Information and Reference Centre, was sent for checking to the election commissions of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, law enforcement agencies, governors of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and other executive bodies. When this information was verified by facts, prompt actions were taken to remedy the violations, including dismissal of the guilty officials. We had such examples.

On the day of voting we, the members of the CEC of Russia, promptly checked all signals about possible stuffing with false voting papers and reported to you about the results of checking with the use of video recordings sent to the Information Centre. Most of these signals were not confirmed and proved to be fakes. Thus, out of 50 videos seen by the members of the CEC of Russia on the voting day only 4 cases proved to be true, while the rest of "violations" (in quote) were only figments of the imagination of some interested persons.

I will continue to discuss the fictional violations. During the election campaign the election commissions monitored the Internet even in the absence of official complaints, including on the so-called “map of violations” prepared by the Golos Movement (the Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos"). It should be noted that the number of such messages compared to the presidential election in the Russian Federation in 2012 decreased by almost 2 times.

Based on these results it is necessary to note that we repeatedly applied to the organizers of this resource and asked them to check and investigate their data at least superficially. As a result, more than 70 percent of the information on violations, posted on this resource, were either fictional or did not represent violations of the electoral law. And from the 30 percent of the appeals about real violations only one third of them were confirmed. Very similar results were obtained by the public chambers, the "Independent Public Monitoring" Organization and other activists and human rights defenders who conducted their own inspections. They even went so far as to put violations of 2012 on the map.

In this connection, it’s really too bad that serious organizations try to build their conclusions and reports based on this resource or other anonymous messages on the Internet, which, in most cases, are really rubbish. Apparently, they lack either sufficient resources or competence to independently examine the electoral process, visit polling stations and draw their own conclusions that correspond to reality. This raises the question of the need for this kind of international monitoring.

Regarding real, but not fictional violations, especially on the day of voting, the election commissions immediately took decisions, including the overturn of voting results at some polling stations.

Thus far, the territorial election commissions overturned the results of voting at 14 polling stations at their discretion, and at 2 polling stations by court decision.

In addition, we carefully reviewed all available information at yesterday’s the CEC of Russia meeting on review complaints.

As a result, 4 election commissions of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation filed petitions for cancellation of the voting results at 7 polling stations.

At the same time, I want to draw your attention to the fact that those who position themselves as fighters against violations violate the law. I mean the cases when members of the commissions who were are supposed to monitor compliance with legal requirements, ripped off information posters of the CEC of Russia, or intentionally avoided signing protocols of district or territorial election commissions without serious reasons.

On the other hand, there is information about violations in the deployment of observers, when trustees signed blank applications whereas other information (surname, name and patronymic of observer) was filled in by another person. Moreover, there is even information that some signatures of trustees were fictitious. Yesterday we saw videos when observers interfered with the work of district election commissions, or tried to substitute for their members.

To sum up, I would like to say that we have fully achieved our goal: the elections were competitive, free and transparent. Dear colleagues, we present you the results of the elections. They are reliable and determined in strict accordance with the Federal Law.

Those who argue against this assertion either deliberately distort the facts or believe false propaganda, including that from outside the Russian Federation, which has nothing to do with the electoral process.

However, it is useless to reassure them, since their conclusions had been written long before the beginning of the election campaign; while we work for the citizens of our country, who give more credence to the elections, electoral process and the CEC of Russia.

Hence, the results of the election are:

Number of voters enrolled on the electoral register


109 008 428

 

Number of voters who took part in the election

73 629 581

67,54%

Number of voters who took part in the voting

73 578 992

67,5%

Surnames, names and patronymics of the
registered candidates included in the voting paper

Votes cast for each registered candidate

absolute value

as percentage
of the number of voters who took part
in the voting

BABURIN Sergei Nikolayevich

479 013

0,65

GRUDININ Pavel Nikolayevich

8 659 206

11,77

ZHIRINOVSKY Vladimir Volfovich

4 154 985

5,65

PUTIN Vladimir Vladimirovich

56 430 712

76,69

SOBCHAK Ksenia Anatolievna

1 238 031

1,68

SURAYKIN Maxim Alexandrovich

499 342

0,68

TITOV Boris Yurjevich

556 801

0,76

YAVLINKSY Gregory Alekseyevich

769 644

1,05

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was elected President of the Russian Federation.

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