MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on Monday is opening a telephone hotline for the December 4 elections to the State Duma lower house of parliament. “Specialists of the CEC staff will be answering calling citizens' questions daily from 09:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m. MSK, at: 8(495) 606-7957,” the CEC press service told Itar-Tass.
Russia's CEC traditionally organises hotlines in the period of the federal election campaigns and single voting days. “Specialists of the legal department, department for the organisation of the election process and other units of the Central Election Commission will answer citizens’ questions,” the press service said.
They are ready to quickly give comprehensive answers to voters on issues related to the preparation and conduct of elections and referendums. The CEC promised that, if the answer requires further elaboration, specialists will get in contact with the citizen on the phone later.
Russian CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov believes that openness and transparency during elections, the constructive interaction between the election organisers and voters are the necessary conditions for citizens’ confidence in the voting results. “When all is clear and everybody can see everything – no questions arise,” he said.
On November 16, the CEC opened two trial services, namely “Find your polling station” and “Find yourself in the list of voters” on its website. These services should inform Russians quickly about their polling station at the State Duma elections and will make it possible to convince that they are put on the list of voters. In other words, numerous Russian citizens will be able to participate in the check-up of the lists of voters.
The service “Find your polling station” is available online and one can look through the list in the personal office. “The services have the same high degree of protection as the CEC whole website,” CEC Secretary Nikolai Konkin said. He recalled that “for instance, this protection makes it possible to rebuff about one million hacking attacks on the common election days.”
The makeup and check-up of the list of voters is one of the most meticulous and labour-intensive stages in any election campaign. The authorities of various levels, the military commandant’s offices, the civil registry offices and other bodies of power are involved in this process. The Federal Migration Service (FMS) does about 90 percent of this work. FMS Deputy Director Sergei Kalyuzhny noted that the population migration data is transmitted to the CEC not only before the elections, but also during the entire year before the elections. “More than 6.9 million citizens have changed their residence place for nine months of 2011 alone” without other movements taken into account. “The most pressing problem is the so-called ‘rubber houses’ [the houses with a too high number of registered residents], where hundreds and thousands of people are registered without any consent of the house owner,” Kalyuzhny told Itar-Tass. They are seeking to be registered, but do not live at this address, the FMS deputy director said.
Despite a high labour-intensive process of making up the lists of voters Russia succeeded to achieve quite high figures in this issue. “The accuracy rate of the lists of voters reached 0.4 percent at the regional elections in March 2011,” CEC member Nina Kulyasova told Itar-Tass. This figure reached 0.74 percent at the State Duma elections in 2007. “These figures meet European standards,” where the makeup of the lists is declarative, but the number of voters is much lower, the CEC member said. Similar services are planned to launch not only at federal, but also regional elections, the CEC noted.
The check-up of the lists of voters, in which the voters can participate personally, was launched on November 13 and will last until the voting day. The final list of voters will be signed at 6 p.m. local time on December 3.
The elections in the sixth State Duma will be held on December 4. All seven political parties, which are registered in the Justice Ministry, will run in the elections for the first time.
The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation is the superior power body responsible for conducting federal elections and overseeing local elections in the Russian Federation founded in September 1993. It consists of 15 members. The President of Russia, State Duma and Federation Council of Russia each appoint five members. In turn, these members elect the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary. The Commission is in power for a four-year term.
On January 30, 2007, amendments to the Russian election legislation, which would allow people without higher education in law to become members of the Central Election Commission, were passed by the President of Russia. The CEC of Russia is a member of the Association of Central and Eastern European Election Officials.