Absentee Ballots Bought and Sold

BallotsThe director of the Leningrad oblast regional electoral commission has revealed a plot to purchase absentee ballots from voters in the run up to State Duma elections on December 2nd. RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Zhuravlev on November 26th, as schemes involving forged and purchased ballots emerged around the country.

“We’re not talking about the traditional dirty tricks, which we have come across in previous elections, like bribing voters, but about very serious infringement of the law,” Zhuravlev said.

He noted that the illegal purchases had been identified in three regions, including the city of Ivangorod and the Tikhvinsk region. Zhuravlev commented that the identities of the perpetrators were as yet unclear, and added that the number of purchased ballots was also uncertain, although it could be as high as “several hundred.”

Zhuravlev promised that all absentee ballots would be examined closely on election day, and commented that there had been a total of eight breaches of electoral law in the Leningrad oblast. These included illegal campaigning and voter bribery.

Earlier in the day, Vladimir Churov, the head of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, announced that in a large number of regions, citizens were being offered between 300 and 1,000 (€8.3 / $12.3 – €27.8 / $41) rubles for their absentee ballot. He also commented that the Commission had discovered plots to produce and sell forged absentee ballots for the State Duma election in a series of regions. In the Perm Krai, for instance, 500 forged ballots and a counterfeiting lab had been captured by authorities.

On October 30th, government employees in the Krasnogvardeisk region of St. Petersburg reported that they were being obliged to use absentee ballots in order to participate in the December 2nd State Duma election. A number of private organizations seconded this announcement shortly thereafter.