Russian MiniLessons: Подтасовка результатов выборов – Rigging Elections

Russia has a nation-wide system of security camera used at voting stations. Implemented after the protests of 2011-2012, they allowed nearly anyone to go online and be and monitor any polling station. In response to COVID, however, Russia changed its system again, allowing for 3-day voting and more widespread "treestump voting" - where makeshift voting stations could appear almost anywhere: traveling between houses, on playgrounds, and even on city busses. This has made monitoring the restults much more difficult.

The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.

During предвыборная кампания over the past decade, война компроматов or черный пиар were key ways to get better election results in Russia. Most often in Russia, this involved showing that a political opponent had been involved in dirty business deals or government corruption.

Today, more attention is paid to the actual rigging of voting results and the role of административный ресурс have in the elections.Post-Soviet-Conflict-Banner

Here is a list of the most frequently used methods, according to magazine:

Внедрение своих управляемых людей в участковые избиркомы allows a number of rigging tricks. These types of махинации include вброс бюллетеней, голосование по чужому паспорту, and выдворение наблюдателей во время подсчета голосов.

In order to вбросить бюллетени, it is first necessary to compile списки “мертвых душ” —people who don’t live in the district, or people who are not going to vote in the elections. Sometimes these people are those who have actually died between the time that the voter lists were formed and the election was held. After that, these names end up on the voter list, and their ballots are filled out with votes for the required political party.

Blank бюллетени are always sent to election districts with a few extra copies. By the time the elections start, the exact amount of ballots should be заверены, and extra ballots should be уничтожены. Sometimes, officials will уничтожают не все чистые бюллетени and instead use some as additional votes. This can create problems as it can result in very high and suspicious voter turnouts, including those of more than 100%.

The extra ballots can be вброшены through various schemes, for example, перед опечатыванием урн для голосования or во время перевозки мешков с бланками и итоговыми протоколами.

Sometimes, давление на избирателей by руководители учреждений . For example, school principals might require teachers and other personnel, and sometimes even students’ parents to принять участие в выборах, and require teachers to голосовать за определенного кандидата. The military and state-owned corporations are also sometimes accused of using this trick. Russian media pointed out after the 2007 and 2011 Duma elections that the partients of psychiatriac wards across the country voted overwhelmingly for United Russia.

There is a trick called a хоровод, where the same person goes from one election area to another, obtaining a ballot from “their” член избиркома and голосует. In this way, the person отдает “свой голос” several times in different places. Generally, this requires that the член избиркома be involved as well as Russian voter lists are compiled based on passports and place of residence.

A similar trick is голосование по чужим паспортам. Here, people are paid or pressured to give their passport to someone on election day and the член избиркома is paid or pressured to not notice that the picture in the passport is not on of the person asking for a ballot.

Another rigging method is called карусель, where a voter получает бюллетень и выносит его за пределы участка. The people who paid the voter to take the ballot, then fill it out for a нужный кандидат. The next voter опускает этот бюллетень в урну; in turn, he takes his own ballot outside for the next person.

Finally, to doctor a vote count, one can also use откровенно неприкрытые и грубые махинации, such as simply приписки голосов нужным кандидатам during the подсчет голосов

About the Author

Josh Wilson

Josh has been with SRAS since 2003. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. He lived in Moscow from 2003-2022, where he ran Moscow operations for SRAS. At SRAS, Josh still assists in program development and leads our internship programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

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Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

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