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Russian election officials restrict access to polling station live streams for fall vote

Source: Meduza

Russia’s Central Election Commision (CEC) has decided to restrict access to online broadcasts from polling stations for the September elections.

According to a presentation published on the CEC’s Telegram channel, broadcasts from polling stations will be conducted via the official portal and be accessible to election commissions at all levels, political parties, candidates, and election monitoring centers. However, unlike in previous years, they won’t be publicly accessible.

The live streams will be broadcast from 50,000 polling stations across the country, where more than 80 percent of voters cast their ballots (according to the Zakon news agency, there are approximately 97,000 polling stations across Russia). The broadcasts will run 24 hours a day throughout the voting period, from September 17–19. From 8:00 p.m. on September 19 (in other words, after the end of voting), live streams will be broadcast from territorial election commissions.

“What the video cameras will monitor on the premises of district commissions”

The CEC will keep recordings of the broadcasts for at least one year, the commission’s presentation says. Political parties will have access to all recordings from territorial and district election commissions; registered candidates will have access to recordings from polling stations in single-mandate constituencies. Other participants in the electoral process will only be able to access the recordings from the polling stations they worked in.

In past years, online broadcasts from polling stations were publicly accessible. In addition to being broadcast on the official portal, there was a live stream portal in the public domain (as stated in CEC documents from 2017). However, as expert Vasily Vaysenberg from the election monitoring organization “Golos” told Meduza, it was practically impossible to obtain recordings of the broadcasts after the vote. 

Russia is holding elections at various levels from September 17–19. In addition to participating in the State Duma elections, voters in 39 regions will elect deputies for local parliaments, nine regions will elect governors, and 11 regional capitals will elect mayors. 

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