Although multiple reports of ballot stuffing across Russia surfaced on the internet on Sunday, the number of fraud reports is down two times compared to previous elections, the Russian Central Election Commission says.
Most of the polling stations were under video surveillance that was streamed online. In one embarrassing case, CCTV footage of a voting station in the Moscow suburb of Lyubertsy showed a woman taking a ballot from a table, looking around to see if anyone is watching, then putting it in the box. She is seen repeating the action a number of times. Minutes later, another woman joins her.
The results from the Lyubertsy station will be nullified, the regional election commission ruled on Sunday.
Similarly, authorities had to seal a ballot box in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don where ballot stuffing was also reported.
Law enforcement officials are investigating similar allegations in the city of Artyom in the Russian Far East. The election commission declared more than 750 ballots invalid following a complaint about an act of ballot stuffing captured on video at a polling station in Artyom.
Authorities were forced to seal ballot boxes in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan, where ballot stuffing allegations were also reported. The results were declared invalid at two polling stations in Dagestan. Central Elections Commission (СEC) head Ella Pamfilova highlighted the importance to “immediately react” to possible violations.
She also promised to check reports on ballot box stuffing at one of the polling stations in Chechnya.
At least 13 criminal cases have been initiated – most of them for election violations, including 775 administrative rule violations – First Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Gorovoy reported on Monday.
Around 80 percent of the polling stations in Russia are under video surveillance, Pamfilova said.
As many as 1,513 international observers from 115 countries worked during the presidential election in Russia, the Central Elections Commission announced on Monday.
There were half as many reported violations as in 2012, Pamfilova said.
Non-governmental election watchdog Golos, which published a list of fraud reports online, concluded late Sunday that in comparison with previous elections, the interaction between the Central Election Commission and independent observers “improved significantly.”
“The Commission really tried to respond promptly to incoming reports of violations during the day, and sent appropriate ‘signals’ to the lower-level commissions,” the watchdog said in a statement.
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Russian Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko said the election was successful in terms of high turnout and low number of violations.
“This [presidential election] is different in that it featured the least number of reported violations and complaints of fraud,” she said on Monday.
Incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin has entered the records books by securing a fourth term, winning in a landslide with a record 76.6 percent of the vote.
First-time Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin came in second with 11.9 percent, while veteran nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky rounds out the top three with 5.66 percent.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) now has 10 days to tally the final vote, Pamfilova said.