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Ballots at three Moscow polling stations invalidated after discovery of irregularities involving home voting

Source: Meduza
Yuri Kochetkov / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

Significant voting irregularities have surfaced at three Moscow polling stations during Russia’s still-ongoing nationwide plebiscite on constitutional amendments (including reforms that could extend Vladimir Putin’s presidency to 2036). Following these reports, Moscow Deputy Election Commissioner Dmitry Reut announced that ballots cast at these stations will be invalidated, though he attributes the aberrations to “human error,” not deliberate acts.

All in the family

Two couples say they were told they’d already voted when they showed up at polling station number 1403 in the capital’s Lefortovo District. The station’s records stated that their children had already voted, as well, which was also false. Election officials had everyone’s passport numbers on file and signatures on paper indicating the receipt of ballots. Polling station workers apologized for the mistake.

According to Vadim Kovalev, a senior member of a public watchdog group, the family’s data had mistakenly been recorded among voters casting absentee ballots at home or at work. 

The dirty dozen

Meanwhile, election monitors discovered home voting irregularities in Moscow’s Ramenki District. In a Facebook post, territorial election commission member Kirill Trofimov reported that more than 400 people (almost one in four local voters) had already cast remote ballots by the evening of June 26 (two days into voting). He told Open Media that only 10 of the 400 people who supposedly voted from home had actually signed for their ballots. In voter records, the others were “marked off in pencil.” Trofimov said he suspects election officials likely planned to reassign these unsigned home votes, if any of the listed voters actually showed up at polling stations to vote in person. (In other words, the unsigned home votes were phony.)

Trofimov also noted that polling station number 2771 recorded 393 home voters, despite the fact that the territorial election commission issued only 34 home ballots (almost a dozen times fewer than what election officials reported). Ilya Massukh, another local election watchdog worker, later confirmed evidence of inflated home voting at polling stations 2771 and 2773.

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