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Russian election officials will reportedly loosen voting restrictions in upcoming constitutional plebiscite 

Source: Kommersant

Russia’s Central Election Commission is reportedly planning to loosen several voting restrictions in the country’s upcoming plebiscite on constitutional amendments that could extend Vladimir Putin’s presidency to 2036. The policy shift conforms to widespread speculation that the Kremlin seeks high turnout in the nationwide vote as a show of legitimacy. 

According to the agency’s updated guidance documents, verified by the newspaper Kommersant, citizens will be issued ballots without recording their passport numbers in voter lists — a signature will be enough to get a blank ballot. Kommersant also reports that absentee ballots and home voting will be made available to all voters, regardless of circumstance (in past elections, officials limited such voting to people with “valid reasons,” like foreign travel or disability). 

The media previously reported that Russian election officials are considering holding future voting outdoors in the open air, over the course of several days, to stagger traffic at polling stations and limit the further spread of the coronavirus.

Russia’s constitutional plebiscite was originally scheduled for April 22, before it was postponed indefinitely because of the pandemic. President Putin is reportedly considering rescheduling the nationwide vote for early July.

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