Voting for amendments to the Constitution has become perhaps the most peaceful and quiet. According to the Kremlin, it is “triumphant.” Last week, the CEC approved the results: 77.92% of those who voted (almost 58 million people) supported the amendments, 21.27% (about 16 million Russians) and the final turnout was 67.97%. It is interesting that everything went almost without excesses, although everyone is already accustomed that any vote in Russia is stuffing right under the lenses of surveillance cameras, nothing uncovered "carousels" and other obvious frauds. And this time - only one high-profile case on the site in Ramenki (the very stuffing right under the camera) with the recognition of the results as invalid, and the broken arm of an opposition journalist.
The reasons for such an idyllic picture have yet to be understood, but for now, Novye Izvestia decided to find out how to “draw” the results of any election, and whether the chances of the “artist” remain unnoticed. Together with experts, we study Professor RANEPA and President of the INDEM Foundation for Applied Political Studies Georgy Satarov, political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin, political analyst Vitaly Shklyarov, political analyst Alexander Kynev and director of the Agency for Political Law and Management, political strategist Alexei Vasilyev “political technology”.
Vote rigging: from the stove to the computers
Most of the “rigging” techniques are already well known: they are noticed by observers, members of precinct election commissions (PECs), and participants in the events themselves are talking about them.
Ballot box stuffing and protocol rewriting
The easiest way to "rig", according to Georgy Satarov, is the stuffing of ballots.
- A bunch of ballots is taken, about 20 pieces, a PEC member at the end of the day looks at the magazine, who did not come to vote, puts hooks in the journal instead of signatures, and puts the necessary daws in the ballot. Then he blocks the camera and shoves the pack into the urn. A similar technology was practiced now: in social networks there were photographs of a fan of spread out ballots from the ballot box with the same daws.
Vitaly Shklyarov notes that this good old method was not abandoned in 2020 either.
- Members of election commissions stupidly rewrote the protocols and threw in packs of ballots. And this is clear: they wrote data that did not agree with the number of ballots in the ballot boxes. Here, for example, a video was posted of how they carried a packet of ballots under a T-shirt and stuck it in the COIB. And falsified, especially not in those areas where there was no observation
Ahead of the schedule and at home, forgery of protocols; the originals are to be burned...
Dmitry Oreshkin says that in different regions the voices win in different ways depending on the “socio-cultural condition of the region”. Everywhere has its own regional characteristics. And they are especially pronounced where there is practically no control - in remote regions outside large cities, where everyone is tied to each other.
-For example, in Chechnya, with Kadyrov’s totalitarian rule, they simply write the protocols without paying any attention to the vote. Bulletins with all degrees of protection come to them, photocopies are made from them, and the originals are put in a safe. Voters are given copies, then they are burned, the originals are taken out of the safe and put the necessary daws.
In other regions, either home voting options or an early voting option are used. For example, in 2012, in the Tambov region in the presidential election, 19.9% of voters voted at home. Employees of the election commission formally bypassed 140 addresses in the region in 12 hours. Leaves less than 5 minutes to the address. Naturally, they just went around the corner and put daws on the ballots. They mastered the technology and work with it. The region then set a record for Putin's support in the Central Federal District - 72%, although in neighboring regions it was 52% - 55%.
And in Moscow in 2011, United Russia was credited with voices in the form of a "night fake". This is the easiest and most reliable way - in TECs they upload fake protocols to GAS "Vybory". But this happens in the most “tested” TECs, which have the most reliable PECs. Not every site is falsified, but these are enough.
As explained by Georgy Satarov , after the vote count, the KOIB (electronic "ballot box") is formed at the PEC, it is filled out, shown to the observers, taken to the TEC, and a completely different protocol with completely different numbers is uploaded to GAS "Vybory" there. “ But if in the TEC it is known that there are strong personalities at the polling station, then these protocols do not touch. They are aware of which areas are dangerous and with which they can cheat, ”adds Satarov .
How can I fake a protocol? According to Dmitry Oreshkin - it’s very simple. “ Members of PECs simply make the protocol very similar to the KOIB document in Word by the format of the protocol. This protocol is thrown out and printed the same on any printer. It is not a matter of technology, but of the environment and the head of the election commission. In Dagestan, for example, KOIBs simply poured hot water from the kettle to disable them, ”the expert explains.
"Carousels" and "cruises" - entertainment for every taste
Alexander Kynev explains the difference between “carousels” and “cruises”, which from the point of view of an ordinary person can be very similar.
- The carousel is also a stuffing technology. In this case, the first voter does not throw the ballot in the ballot box, but takes it with him and shows it to the curator, who checks the correctness of the vote. Then the next voter takes this ballot to the ballot box, and, again, passes it to the curator. Etc. This option is used if there are a lot of observers at the polling station and the turnout is low, or there are few voters at all, as happens in municipal elections. The method is quite rare - the procedure is time-consuming, and you can’t wind up a lot.
A much more popular cruise vote is when organized groups of voters arrive, they are given ballots, and they vote for completely different people. And then they ride the whole bus to another section. Cruise voting can be arranged only in case of conspiracy of members of the commission and organizations delivering people. In appearance, there were no problems, because observers have no right to verify the passport data of voters with the declared ones.
But it is not necessary to engage in wrapping up and fraud in order to get the desired result. Sometimes you can just push people to the “right” choice or just make them vote as they should.
The evolution of consent: they will do everything themselves
The current vote was marked by two major innovations: it lasted a week, and early voting in Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod region could be done in electronic format. Voting conditions are changing, and with them the conditions of fraud. Especially a lot of concern was caused by electronic voting. The main argument - paper is paper, but nobody knows what is electronically changed there. Dmitry Oreshkin refutes many fears of electronic innovations. However, the relative reliability of the system did not prevent the authorities from using it for their own selfish purposes.
-In 2011, they introduced KOIBs, which gave a guarantee of honesty and showed excellent results. The same thing with electronic voting. They gave a smaller share of the votes in favor. Here the mechanics are different: people were simply forced to register for voting in budgetary and large state-owned companies. Leaders organized electronic voting directly from the workplace. And the vast majority suspected and believed that the results would be known. But in fact, the program code does not allow this. But then it allows you to find out whether a person is registered or not. Leaders took advantage of this, naming those who did not vote. But the choice of a person is unknown to them. Just in case, people vote in favor, so as not to spoil relations with management.
Electronic voting in itself is cleaner, but the psychological pressure is great. 80% are sure that their voting result is known to the management - this was shown by the past Moscow elections.
Georgy Satarov also points out that it is not necessary to engage in fraud: people themselves will do everything as they should.
- You can put pressure on voters, depending on the bosses. And the bosses are civil servants. For example, in universities. Everyone wants to continue to work. The more bulky the public sector, the more voting depends on the will of the state. It comes to direct coercion with the need to photograph and report to the boss.
How many votes can be “rigged”: from region to region it differs
Georgy Satarov notes that it all began rather modestly: in the 90s, about 3% was wound up and the most fair elections are the 1999 parliamentary elections. Then there was even quite good legislation with broad powers of observers. But then everything went and went. Dmitry Oreshkin points out that in 2011 in Moscow in the format of “night falsification” they attributed 15% to 17%: “the United Russia party got 29.9%, and Official data - 47.7%. There were some numbers in the minutes, in GAS Vybory (State Automated System of the Russian Federation “Elections”) - completely different ones".
Although, as Dmitry Oreshkin notes, in Moscow after Bolotnaya they try not to resort to this method - too much noise has been raised. Observers were present at more than 100 polling stations and were able to demonstrate discrepancies in the protocols. “Since then, Moscow has not resorted to such frauds,” the expert added. But regions are a completely different matter. In her interview for Echo of Moscow, the political scientist and associate professor of the Department of Public Administration and Public Policy of the Institute of Social Sciences of the RANEPA, Yekaterina Shulman, also spoke about the specifics of the regions:
- The difference between the regions is striking, and it does not depend on voters, not on their moods, but solely on the current government. We are well aware of these regions - the electoral sultanates.
To stop or at least complicate fraud, according to Shulman, banal control at the observer level can.
- Observers make it difficult for a falsification machine to falsify it. There are two categories of regions in Russia: Russia-1, in which direct gross falsifications are difficult (these are mainly central regions and cities), and Russia-2 are those regions in which falsifications occur. So, the border between the first and second Russia is mobile.
Alexander Kynev clarifies that “the same rewriting of protocols is found in regions of electoral anomalies - these are national republics, primarily the North Caucasus and the Volga region. They don’t count there, they just write the necessary numbers”.
However, it still happens that the protest movement wins. At the current vote, the Nenets Autonomous Region opposed amendments to the Constitution, and in the regional elections in 2018, unexpectedly LDPR candidates were elected in the Khabarovsk Territory and Vladimir Region, and the main candidate, Viktor Zimin, was forced to withdraw his candidacy in Khakassia.
Alexander Kynev explains that the whole thing is in the approach to the elections and traditions of the regions:
- All the regions in which the protest candidates won have never belonged to the territories of mass fraud - rigging has never been a tradition there. The elections were fair.
Aleksei Vasiliev adheres to the same point of view: “There are historically developed territories where voting is more controlled. This is an element of political culture. Opposition candidates in the last gubernatorial elections won only through fair voting”.
It turns out that these few opposition opposition winners in the regions were just lucky, or, as experts say, “historically” for various reasons that it wasn’t customary to win votes. But in the rest of the country, outside the megacities, so far, the vote, according to experts, is more of a formal nature.
In general, organizing fraud on a national scale is not an easy task. And she repeats herself with enviable constancy. Is it true that the authorities are not too lazy to put so much effort into it, or is it already in the election commissions that a reflex is triggered and the cheat goes in an “automatic” mode? Georgy Satarov claims that “ orders are being sent down to the regions, the heads of administrative authorities are responsible for their implementation. Everything is planned and distributed in advance . ” I agree with him and Vitaly Shklyarov : “ Such frauds are not done in one day. They are prepared and conducted in advance, they are clearly planned. You won’t do anything in one evening. The task was set and launched from above. And this is very clearly visible in the graphs, where peaks and correlations with the tasks are visible . ”
But Dmitry Oreshkin , based on his own observations, adheres to a different point of view:
- Orders are not formed in advance. It works a little differently and more complicated. The sociological norm is set. In particular, for this VTsIOM published exit polls on early voting. During the election, such publications are prohibited by Art. 46 p. 3 of the law on basic guarantees of electoral rights. But this was not an election, but an all-Russian vote, and the laws do not apply to them. This was a signal not only to people, but also to electoral administrators. They realized that it was necessary to show about 70% of support, and preferably a little more, and set to work .
Violations without punishment
It would seem that everything is sewn with white thread. So why does everything go quietly and imperceptibly? But because the election commissions are also not fools. If in the Caucasian republics, in the same Chechnya, members of the commissions can simply ignore any requirements and norms due to local specifics, then in other regions and especially large cities, election commissions had to develop special methods.
Dmitry Oreshkin points out that even having all the necessary evidence of falsification in hand, something is practically impossible to achieve.
- The task of observers and media representatives is to obtain copies of the primary version of the protocol. And then you can compare the numbers in the protocols and GAS "Elections". But the CEC understands that it is necessary to issue copies that cannot be presented later. And a falsification mechanism was developed. For example, the minutes are written in the minutes when the vote count is completed, for example, 11:45. The court will not accept this - it is necessary to write at 23:45. Or they give copies in which, in order to save time, they write the number of votes only in numbers, but not in words. Or, conversely, only in words. Or the print is not blue, but green. This is all a scam .
In social networks this time there was evidence of falsification of protocols, but in the end, you can practically do nothing with them.
Valery Shklyarov also believes that achieving justice is unrealistic: “ Manipulators and counterfeiters are never held accountable - I conducted a study. This topic has long been practiced by the authorities; everything has been tied to it, from the presidential administration to polling stations, the CEC and the police. This practice is welcome . ” Georgy Satarov really recalls the precedents for punishing the perpetrators of falsifications: “ There were few cases when they were held accountable for fraud, but they were. There were cases when people noticed that they had already voted for them. They called the police, sued and won. But this rarely happens . ”
So, here are the most “popular” and demanded ways of cheating votes
If you do not take into account the completely radical cases encountered in remote and sparsely populated regions, then the falsification of the protocol is most often used: a minimum of effort and risk and a maximum of effect. But the voices of people who depend on state money never fail: now there are few willing to lose their jobs for the sake of a daw. And home-based voting and stuffing are already used according to old memory as a control shot.
Can this be resisted? It is almost impossible to prove something in court. But there is a sure way - not to refuse to vote and increase the number of observers at polling stations. The more real votes there are, the less space will be left for posts and fraud, because there can be no more votes than voters.