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.