The Central election Commission (CEC) actively discussed the issue of the reform of the system of absentee ballots. Paper coupons can be replaced by electronic applications, and the decision of the CEC members should take until early April, said two sources in the election Commission.
“This [cancellation of absentee ballots] is discussed for months,” explained one of the interlocutors . According to him, the CEC “almost every day there are brain attack”: the commissioners must decide how to make the new system as transparent as possible for voters and observers.
The CEC Chairman, Ella Pamfilova confirmed that the question of cancellation of passes of the Commission discussed very actively. “We are currently considering the system, well if not to perfection, to reach him is difficult, because we cannot in such a short time to overcome the technological backwardness in a number of ways…” she said.
That at the meetings in the Kremlin with the participation of experts discussed several ways to increase turnout, in particular, the abolition of absentee ballots, in late February, said a source in the presidential administration and close to it the source.
About the essence of the proposed reform was announced by the CEC member Eugene Kolyushin, and his words have been confirmed by two sources in the Commission. If the reform is adopted, it is to not vote at the place of registration, you will need to apply to your precinct election Commission (PEC). But to come to the PEC or to prepare a notarized power of attorney, the need will disappear: it will be enough to send an electronic application with the indication of the station where the voter is going to come on the voting day. Verification of the application may take some time, therefore, stated in the CEC, to Express their desire will need at least two or three days before the vote.
For receiving and processing applications can be created a separate website, Kolyushin said. Not excluded, and the binding system for the submission and validation of applications to the portal, he said. In this case, voters who want to vote not at his residence, will be enough to register on the portal and to obtain approval from the election Commission at the place of registration from the comfort of home. Details of the project for the rejection of absentee ballots, according to CEC, are still under discussion and no decision has been made.
To launch the new system, all PECs should be equipped with computers connected to a single register of voters. After the citizen election Commission at the place of registration will have to exclude it from your list, and the Commission plot where he’s going to vote to include it in your. Data on the inclusion and exclusion of the votes should change in real time, said the sources . This, according to them, the only way to prevent the offenders to vote twice on the site at the place of registration and the land specified in the application.
The reform will require substantial funding, the publication said a source close to the CEC. “In fact, you will need to create a new, alternative system “gas-Elections”, — he said.
First, it will be necessary to purchase computers. Now, according to the source, they are in the CEC, electoral commissions of the constituent entities and territorial commissions (TECS). In the PEC, and in Russia 95 thousand, there are no computers. “We have a big country and computerservice week”, — says the Secretary of the CEC, Maya Grishina. However, in her words, “to implement any task, you only need to perform a certain number of conditions.”
Secondly, for the newly purchased computers will need to have appropriate software that also requires the expenditure, continued the source .
Thirdly, according to him, the need to upgrade the program of the register (now register of electors is in the gas “Vybory”), so she could work on the PECs.
Fourth, the source said, not all weekend you can get Internet access. Before the presidential election of 2012 was purchased a webcam for sites that stream was conducted with 65 thousand sites, while 35 thousand sites on the Internet could not hold.
Fifth, we need to train people working with the programmes, concluded the source .
The head of the expert consulting group under the CEC Andrei Buzin told about another problem with absentee ballots: if you refuse them, the people who don’t know exactly where will be the day of the vote, still can’t vote.
The purpose and timing of the reform
A source close to the presidential administration, in late February, said that the Kremlin is actively discussing the need to increase voter turnout in 2018. It was also reported that, according to the plan employees of the political block of the Kremlin, elections in the country should be legitimate, and Putin should get more votes than during his previous campaigns.
“It will take a lot of money [to reform absentee ballots]. But not worth powder and shot” — sums up close to the CEC source . In his opinion, the abolition of the absentee will not give a big increase in turnout. According to the estimates of the head close to the Kremlin development Fund civil society Konstantin Kostin, the abolition of absentee ballots could raise turnout by 0.5-1%.
In connection with the presidential election next year, the decision to abandon otkrepitelnyh to be taken by the end of March this year, according to experts interviewed . According to political scientist Nikolay Mironov – “a new system needs long-term testing”: “Testing [the system] should begin with municipal elections,” — says Mironov.
None of the “complications of the voting system”, including the abolition of the paper absentee ballots can not be accepted “without further testing”, said the representative of the Association “Golos” Gregory Melkonyants. “The main problem with the PEC members, whose activities must be completely transparent, so that the results of the election trust, he said. — With the paper voting is more or less clear, but the new electronic system still needs to prove its reliability and transparency, including regular voters.”
The interlocutors agreed that the introduction of electronic filings for absentee ballots is going to be a long and complex process: the project must undergo a large number of approvals, it is necessary to develop a technical base. “I hope the presidential elections will only manage,” said Kolyushin.
Pamfilova in conversation with admitted that the new system will be revised after the presidential elections .According to her, is a “serious technical re-equipment,” which requires a “very long time”.