Annals of Russian Election Fraud

The Power Vertical reports on the details of the latest shameful electoral fraud, as exposed heroically by a group of Russian bloggers:

After the December 2007 Duma elections and March 2008 presidential election (hello, Dmitry Medvedev!), some intrepid Russian bloggers and independent election observers performed some heroic work to highlight the extent of the election fraud in Russia. I wrote about their work here, paying particular attention to some meticulous statistical analysis that was done. If you want the full story, get a copy of “The Forensics Of Election Fraud: Russia And Ukraine” by U.S.-based professors Mikhail Maygkov and Peter Ordeshook and Dmitry Shakin of Moscow’s Academy of National Economy.

Now Russia’s bloggers are at it again, putting the microscope to the official results of the October 11 Moscow City Duma elections, in which, according to official results United Russia won 66 percent of the vote and 32 of the 35 council seats. That’s right, under the grossly unfair seat-allocation system that they instituted before the vote, 66 percent of the vote translates into 91 percent of the seats. Official turnout in Moscow was put at about 35 percent.

A blogger named kireyev posted on his LiveJournal blog an analysis of all the more than 3,000 polling stations in Moscow, using official data from the Central Election Commission. His figures show compellingly that the higher the reported turnout at a particular polling station, the higher the vote total for United Russia was there. That is, all the “above average” votes seem to have gone to the ruling party.

Kireyev then analyzed the 146 polling stations that reported 20 percent turnout or less, figuring that these precincts had the least fraud, at least in the form of ballot-box stuffing. He found that among these stations, the results were: United Russia, 46 percent; the Communist Party, 21 percent; the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), 9.8 percent; Yabloko, 8.3 percent; A Just Russia, 8 percent; and Patriots of Russia, 3.1 percent.

Another blogger, Andrei A., took Kireyev’s numbers a bit further and calculated that the actual turnout for the Moscow elections was about 20 percent and that United Russia polled about 42 percent. He estimated that the average fraud among all polling stations was 15 percent of the ballots, while the maximum fraud reached more than 30 percent in some precincts.

A third blogger, avmalgin, got a hold of the voter protocols for polling station No. 1,702 in Moscow. That document shows 192 votes for United Russia, 98 for the Communist Party, 50 for A Just Russia, 38 for Yabloko, 37 for the LDPR, and 11 for the Patriots of Russia. However, the website of the Central Election Commission, of which the blogger presents a screenshot, shows the exact same results for all the parties – except for United Russia. By official results, United Russia got 742 votes. That is, United Russia’s percentage was magically raised from 45 percent to 74 percent.

These bloggers and others like them are doing brave work. Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov has already compared those who are reporting on the fraud to “terrorists” and has threatened to prosecute them.

With any luck, though, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this information in the coming days. If you spot any, please forward them to me.

Writing in the Moscow Times, Konstantin Sonin of the New Economic School in Moscow and a columnist for Vedomosti, offers his thoughts on this pathetic new low for Russian civilization:

Following Moscow City Duma elections four years ago, one of Russia’s top political analysts, Alexander Kynev, wrote that they had been “something of a ‘high point’ in the assault against the voting rights of citizens as the authorities tried to minimize political competition in the country.”

As it turned out, he was mistaken. The 2005 elections were not the worst example of rigged electoral practices. The results of subsequent elections reflected the will of voters less and less. That year would better have been designated as the start of a dark period for Russian democracy. The question is not whether the most recent elections conformed to minimum democratic criteria: elections involving the wholesale disqualification of candidates cannot be considered democratic in any way. The question now is simpler: Were the results falsified? If there was any debate as to the scale of falsification in the 2007 State Duma elections, the recent Moscow City Duma elections put an end to it.

It would be pointless to conduct an analysis of these elections. Even the simplest chart illustrating the official preliminary results of the share of votes each party received relative to the turnout at each polling station indicates a high likelihood that hundreds of thousands of votes were stuffed into the United Russia ballot box. Of course, there might be another way to explain why, wherever voter turnout exceeded 50 percent, the “extra” votes almost always went to United Russia, whereas the distribution of votes below the 50 percent benchmark was decidedly more varied. But a comparison of these results with those from elections prior to 2005 — and even with the apparently falsified 2007 election results — leaves little room for any other explanation.

Here is just one example: According to the Central Elections Commission, District 160 had a voter turnout of 18.3 percent, with United Russia winning 32.6 percent of the vote, the Communist Party 28.5 percent and Yabloko 18.2 percent. Nearby District 161 reported a turnout of 94.3 percent, with United Russia taking 77.8 percent of all votes, the Communist Party 2.8 percent and Yabloko only 0.9 percent. There might very well be a valid reason for the huge discrepancy — for example, one district might contain an enormous, low-rent housing complex with residents who vote en masse. The second might be dominated by expensive townhouses from which wild horses couldn’t drag the occupants to fulfill their civic duty. But that is only in theory. In reality, the discrepancy between those two particular districts was substantially lower in previous elections.

So the elections were falsified, and yet even under the best of conditions, United Russia failed to earn 50 percent of Muscovites’ votes. The practical considerations are even more complex. Up until recently, in any discussion regarding the falsification of election results, there was always the argument, “In any case, the majority of people support Putin (or Mayor Yury Luzhkov), so what difference do the election results make anyway?”

I once made a similar point when commenting on election results. But now I have my doubts. Now it seems that Muscovites really don’t support United Russia and its leader anymore. Winning 40 percent — at best — of the vote in an electoral race can by no means be interpreted as receiving a mandate from the voters.

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15 responses to “Annals of Russian Election Fraud

  1. I can’t get over the voter turnout of 20%.

    It’s a given that United Russia will cheat, but, for God’s why won’t Russians get off of their butts and go vote for the opposition?

    The 80% apathetic no shows that won’t even show up at the polls are Putin’s best friends. Their silence is an indirect endorsement of him. He needs it to survive.

    The rot in Russia is of their own making.

    • A 20% voter turnout undermines the legitimacy of he elections. When people know that their votes will be counted in a fraudulous way, it is better not to participate in such a farce. If people don’t go to vote, if voter turnout will be around 10%, not any official will have any legitimacy in times of trouble. So it’s better not to show up at all as long as elections are being held in a fraudulous manner.

      • Paul,

        What are you talking about? You are an intelligent man. Instead of reading total nonsense that morons with IQ below 80 write here, just read the actual source including the discussions:

        http://filin.livejournal.com/918302.html

        First of all, these are not votes for “December 2007 Duma elections and March 2008 presidential election”. These are 2009 elections for the Moscow City Council (called Moscow Duma)

        Second, the author – Andrei A. (Filin) – doesn’t say that the turnout was 20%. What he says is that it is mathematically improbable that Edinaya Rossiya got a much higher percentage of votes from high-turnout precincts than from lower-turnout precincts (the percentages should be the same regardless of turnout), and thus pro-Putin people falsified the overall outcome of saying that Edinaya Rossiya got 66% of the vote. What he says is that the correct percentage for Edinaya Rossiya should be taken from the low-turnout precincts (with 20% turnout), where only 43% of the voters voted for Edinaya Rossiya.

        Third, even that conclusion is not certain, because another reader pointed out a mistake in his analysis, and the author apologised and took it back:

        Слона-то я и не приметил :-) Вы абсолютно правы, если смотреть итоговую формулу с исключенным d… Вот ведь как автоматический фитинг может подвести :-) Все данные – у kireev, я обрабатывал его график.

        I know that, being a PhD in mathematics, nothing I say here will register with the thick scull of the owner, therefore I will be forced by the blog owner to “apologise” for telling the mathematical truth and then will be banned – but that’s life.

        • However, unless somebody can explain why high-turnout precincts got higher percentages of votes for Edinaya Rosssiya than low-turnout precincts, it is likely that mass ballot-box stuffing in favour of Edinaya Rosssiya indeed took place, although the mathematical evaluation as to how much exactly is not easy and remains a question.

          • In fact, the more I read, the more I wish these volunteer statisticians best of luck in proving that massive fraud took place. Sadly, Putin’s people may study their research and use it to avoid making the same mistakes next time.

        • “Instead of reading total nonsense that morons with IQ below 80 write here, just read the actual source including the discussions”

          Stop talking about yourself in such terms Michael.

        • I was not replying on the article, I was replying on the remark that people are at fault when reacting apathetically to elections and that they should express their opinion by voting for the oppositon. If you have to deal with fraudulent elections, it is better to stay at home than to go out and vote. You take away any lagitimacy of the elections and you even make it harder to cover up the fraud.

          • That’s probably true.

          • Nonsense.

            You are assuming that the world is supposed to guess what the motives and votes of the stay-at-home crowd was and would have been.

            You can’t complain that you were cheated out of anything if you didn’t show up to vote. That in itself plays into Putin’s hands.

            • You are reacting from the cosy situation of a Western democracy where elections are fair. If you know that anyway they will cheat, it is better not to show up at all, and make clear that this whole election circus is nothing but a farce.

          • Actually, if 100% of people vote – there can be no ballotbox stuffing.

  2. Far from it! You see, everything is perfect in the paradise that has been wrought by Vladimir Putin, so there is no need for voting. Just let Putin lead the nation to ever higher astral planes of perfection and elation!

  3. You can’t complain that you were cheated out of anything if you didn’t show up to vote. It’s beyond complacency. Even if on the part of some it was a protest against United Russia, it was a stupid form of protest. It gave Putin the feedback he needed, that the sheeple are comatose.

    A 20% voter turnout is mindboggling.

  4. I have just watched Luzhkov’s TVC Postscriptum weekly news program, in which they pretty much admitted that they faslified the elections in Moscow and argued that the only reason why the resiults shouldn’t be unnuled and new elections held is because “it will cost too much money”.

    I want to say: You, scumbags Putin and Luzhkov, may you rot in Hell.

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