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MOSCOW, January 14. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. The committee for constitutional legislation under the State Duma lower house of Russia's parliament recommended on Monday to adopt the first reading of the bill returning the "against all" entry to ballot papers. The entry might be restored for municipal election campaigns only. The bill was proposed by a group of Federation Council (upper house of Russia's parliament) members led by FC speaker Valentina Matviyenko.
United Russia members have already supported the proposed legislation, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper writes. However, they made certain reservations: while not questioning the comeback of the "against-all candidate" to municipal elections, they believe careful consideration is necessary before re-introducing the entry to federal and regional polls.
A Just Russia said it had no doubts that this "protest" entry should be reinstated, as it showed the voters' attitude to the list of the candidates. Meanwhile, the Communist Party /KPRF/ said the move was only advantageous to United Russia, because the electorate ticking off the "against all" entry are giving away the votes which would otherwise go to the opposition.
The explanatory note to the bill says that the cancellation of the "against all" entry has decreased voter turnout at the elections of all levels, resulting in spoilage of ballot papers and citizens' voting for "marginal" candidate even if they do not like him," according to the Novye Izvestia.
The bill proposes to return the "against all" entry to ballot papers of the parliamentary election, and the municipal and regional elections. However, Russians will not be allowed to vote "against all" at the presidential polls. Regions and municipalities might opt out of this entry on their own accord.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper notes that giving one's vote to anybody but government representative — as a method of protest — has become quite popular in the past two years. Experts argue over how many votes "the protesters" gave to A Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party. Andrei Buzin, co-chairman of the public movement "Voice" believes that "with the current state of the election system and citizens' mistrust in elections, this entry will at least help the incumbent authorities conduct an excellent sociological pool, which would be useful."
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