21 Most Asked Questions
About early elections of President of the Russian Federation
1. How many candidates were nominated for the office of President and how many are on the ballot?
The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation registered a total of 33 voter initiative groups that had the right to nominate their candidates for the office of President of the Russian Federation. Fifteen of these initiative groups submitted registration papers on behalf of their candidates. Of the 15 initiatives seeking to register, two were disqualified (All-Russian Party of the People leader Anzori Aksentev-Kikalishvili and Tishkino Director Ismail Tagi-Zade), one withdrew his candidacy (Moscow Duma Deputy German Khrustalev) and twelve have been declared eligible to begin their campaigns.
The twelve candidates for President of the Russian Federation are:
- Vladimir Putin, current Acting President and Prime Minister, former Head of FSB
- Gennadiy Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party
- Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko bloc
- Konstantin Titov, Governor of Samara, member of the coordinating council of the Union of Right Wing Forces
- Aman Tuleev, Governor of Kemerova Region, was fourth on list of KPRF
- Yuri Skuratov, former chief federal prosecutor
- Umar Dzhabrailov, Moscow business man and hotel owner (Slavyanskaya)
- Ella Pamfilova, head of For Civil Dignity, first woman candidate for Presidency
- Stanislav Govorukhin, conservative filmmaker, OVR
- Alexei Podberyozkin, head of Spiritual Heritage, former assistant to Zyuganov
- Yevgeniy Savostyanov, head of Moscow Fund for Presidential Programs, former Yeltsin aide
- Vladimir Zhririnovsky, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia
2. Who may nominate a candidate?
Candidates may be nominated by election associations, election blocs, and directly by voters.
Election Association is a political party, organized political movement, or other political organization that is created under the procedures established by federal laws and registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. An election association must be registered with the Ministry of justice not later than one year prior to election day in order for it to be able to register a candidate for President.
Election Bloc is a voluntary alliance of two or more election associations that join together to nominate a candidate for the election. Electoral blocs are registered by the Central Election Commission. It is not required that a candidate nominated by an electoral association or bloc be a member of any association involved. An electoral association or bloc may only nominate one candidate.
Initiative Voters' Group is a group of least 100 citizens that can be created only after the official call for elections has been issued. The group applies for registration to the Central Election Commission and submits a number of documents necessary for registration. Once registered an initiative voters' group is eligible to nominate its candidate.
3. What are the steps in the nominating process?
- Electoral associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups initiate the process of nominating a candidate by holding their congresses or meetings at which they vote by secret ballot to select the candidate they choose to nominate.
- Each nominating group also appoints authorized representatives who will speak for the group in all matters related to their participation in the election. The list of authorized representatives of an election association, bloc, or initiative voters' group must also be registered with the Central Election Commission.
- To apply for registration, election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups must submit documents certifying the foundation of an election association, bloc, or initiative voters' group, as well as documents certifying the nomination of a particular candidate and a written consent of the candidate to run for the office of President. The candidate's written consent must include information about his/her citizenship (including foreign or double) and criminal record (if any). Should a nominated candidate have a criminal record, his written consent to run for the office must provide complete information on the offense committed, punishment incurred, and sentence served (if applicable). In addition, candidates must submit information about the income, property and material liabilities of all members of their immediate family. This information is to be submitted in the form of income statement on behalf of every member of the candidate's family.
- Upon verification of the submitted documents, the Central Election Commission registers the authorized representatives of the organization seeking to nominate a candidate.
- Immediately upon registration of the authorized representatives, a nominating organization may begin gathering signatures on a nominating petition. Given the early nature of the presidential elections, each candidate must be supported by not less than 500,000 (as opposed to the usual 1,000,000 required) signatures of voters on officially authorized signature sheets. Signatures must come from voters residing in at least 15 of the Russian Federation's 89 Subjects. No more than 7% of the accepted signatures may come from a single Subject.
- The deadline for submission of signature petitions to the CEC was February 13, 2000, at 6:00 p.m.
- The Central Election Commission reviews each petition to ensure that it is in the proper order and that it contains the required number of valid signatures. When it is determined that a petition satisfies the legal requirements, the Central Election Commission registers the candidate and issues an appropriate registration certificate.
- Refusal of the Central Election Commission to register a candidate may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The case must be adjudicated within three days.
4. Who are the candidates and who nominated them?
Of the 15 candidates who managed to submit all the necessary documentation and signatures to the Central Election Commission on time only three had been nominated by election associations and blocs, whereas the remaining 11 candidates were nominated by initiative voters' groups.
Candidates nominated by initiative voters' groups
Candidates nominated by election associations and blocs
Aksentev-Kikalishvili, Anzori - leader of the public organization «All-Russian Political Party of People»
Zhirinovsky, Vladimir - leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia
Pamfilova, Ella - leader of the public political movement «For Civil Dignity»
5. What else will be voted on during these elections?
In a number of republics, regions, and districts of the Russian Federation, citizens will participate in elections of deputies of federal and regional legislatures, heads of local self-government bodies (Governors), as well as in referenda on various issues. For example, on March 26, 2000 five referenda will be held in various subjects of the Russian Federation (Republics of Karelia and Udmurtia, as well as in Krasnoyarsk, Leningrad, and Murmansk Oblasts). Candidates to be elected for regional and local offices will be on separate ballots. Results of the local elections will be counted and reported separately.
6. What are the electoral administrative units and how many polling stations will be established for the presidential election?
The election of President of the Russian Federation will be held on the territory of all 89 subjects of the Russian Federation. In the Republic of Chechnya, territorial and precinct election commissions are now being formed. They will be administered by federal troops.
Approximately 2,690 territorial election commissions and 94,000 precincts have been formed in the Russian Federation to facilitate the presidential elections. Each precinct will serve a maximum of 3,000 voters.
Russian citizens temporarily residing outside their election precincts or traveling abroad have equal rights to participate in the election of President of the Russian Federation. To enable such citizens to implement their voting rights, approximately 420 polling stations will be established in hospitals, sanatoriums, detention facilities, polar stations, ships at sea, and Russian embassies and consular missions located abroad.
7. How many voters will be eligible to vote in the presidential election on 26 March 2000?
Approximately 108 million voters will be eligible to participate in the election.
8. Who is responsible for the administration of the election of President of the Russian Federation?
Elections are administered by a hierarchy of election commissions appointed at the central, subject, territorial, and precinct levels.
Central Election Commission (CEC): (1) Established on a permanent basis and comprised of 15 members with deciding votes. Five members are appointed by State Duma (the lower chamber of parliament); five are appointed by the Federation Council (the upper chamber of parliament); and, five are appointed by the President. The current Chairman of the Central Election Commission is Alexander Albertovich Veshniakov.
Subject election commissions (SEC): (89) The subject election commission directs and coordinates elections within the boundaries of the relevant subject and acts as a primary liaison between the CEC and bodies of the state power within the subject. Members of SECs serve four-year terms and are appointed by the elected and executive bodies of power within the subject, based on proposals from public organizations, elected bodies of local governments, and citizens. SECs decide on the number and location of polling stations, print and distribute ballots, and allocate financial resources to territorial election commissions. They also summarize subject-wide results of the voting.
Territorial Election Commissions (TEC): (2,690) Territorial election commissions are appointed by elected bodies of local governments and serve only for the period of the election. TECs supervise, coordinate, and provide technical and resource support to precinct election commissions. They ensure that equal opportunities are provided to all candidates for their campaign activities within the territory. TECs summarize territory-wide results of the voting based on protocols of results provided by precincts.
Precinct Election Commissions (PEC): (94,500) Precinct election commissions compile voters' lists for their respective precincts based on information provided by heads of local administrations and prepare polling stations for election day. On election day, members of PECs process voters, count the votes and transfer voting results to territorial election commissions.
Actions or decisions of any commission may be appealed to a higher commission or to a court. Each superior commission is authorized to overturn the actions or decisions of a lower commission.
9. Do candidates have any representation on election commissions?
Yes. Each registered candidate is entitled to appoint a representative to serve on any commission at any level. The candidate's representatives serve as «members with deliberative vote.» That means that, although they may participate at any session of a commission, raise issues and engage in debates and discussion, they may not vote when decisions are formally adopted. However, their presence ensures that candidates may stay informed about the activities and decisions of election commissions at all levels.
Every registered candidate is allowed to have up to 600 representatives (agents) who must be registered by the Central Election Commission. Representatives (agents) facilitate campaigning and have the authority of observers. They are allowed to observe the work of the CEC and other sub level commissions with regard to voters' lists, ballots, and absentee certificates. They also have the authority to monitor the vote count.
10. How are the voter lists compiled?
Voter lists are compiled by precinct election commissions based on information provided to them by local administrative authorities. Every citizen over the age of 18 is automatically added to the voters' list. Citizens whose incompetence has been established in a court of law are not eligible to vote, as are those who convicted criminals who are in prison.
Territorial election commissions must finish the compilation of voters' lists not later than 21 days prior to election day, i.e., by March 5, 2000. They then must make them available to the public not later than March 10. The final voters' lists must be signed by precinct election commissions not later than March 25.
The law allows precincts formed on polar stations and ships at sea to prolong the compilation of voters' lists till March 25.
11. What rules apply to campaigning activities of candidates and how are their campaigns funded?
Citizens, candidates, election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups have the right to freely campaign for or against candidates. It is against the law to spread anonymous or counterfeited printed materials.
In accordance with the Federal Law «On Election of President of the Russian Federation» Russian citizens and political public associations are free to conduct election campaigning in any form and using any lawful means. In addition, all registered candidates are equally entitled to access mass media and use them for their campaigning activities.
Upon registration, candidates may immediately start their campaigning activities and are obliged to finish them not later than 00:00 hours on March 25.
Candidates may use periodicals and electronic mass media for their campaigning purposes for free or on a paid basis. Every candidate is entitled to one hour of free airtime on every national state-owned TV/Radio channel (on regional TV/Radio channels they are entitle to 1/2 hour) during the peak time. The dates and times for the use of this free time is determined on the basis of lot drawing. Candidates are also guaranteed access to free print media national state-owned periodicals and regional newspapers and magazines.
12. Who is allowed to be an observer and where may they observe?
Where they may observe
Observers appointed by:
Foreign states and international organizations
Representatives of mass media
At polling stations from the opening till the vote count is completed.
At territorial election commissions during the accumulation and finalization of election results.
At subject election commissions during the accumulation and finalization of subject-wide election results.
Observers appointed by public organizations (NGOs) registered with the Ministry of Justice
At polling stations from the opening of voting until the vote count is completed.
Candidates and their attorneys and authorized representatives of election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups
At sessions of election committees.
Foreign observers are accredited by the Central Election Commission, while all other observers are certified by entities they represent. No advance notice must be submitted to a polling site where an observer intends to be. Upon entering polling stations, observers must present the proper identification to be allowed to observe.
International (foreign) observers have the right to share their opinions about Russian election-related legislation and the preparation and conduct of the Presidential election with representatives of the mass media. They are allowed to hold press conferences, meet candidates and their representatives, as well as representatives of election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups.
The Central Election Commission has the right to cancel accreditation of foreign (international) observers if they violate Russian federal laws and/or generally accepted norms of international law.
13. What are the procedures at polling stations?
Polling hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Before the first voter votes, the Chairman of the precinct election commission is required to display empty ballot boxes and seal them in the presence of the members of the commission, representatives of candidates and election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups, observers, and voters who may be present.
- Each voter must vote personally. A voter must show proper identification and then a member of the PEC finds the voter's name on the voters' list. The voter is then asked to sign the list opposite his or her name to acknowledge receipt of the ballot(s). Each ballot must be validated with the signature of at least two commission members and the official seal of the polling station.
- The voter is then directed to a voting booth to mark the ballot in private. Only one person is allowed to be in the voting booth at a time. The voter makes his or her choice by placing a mark in the box opposite the candidate's name. The ballot also offers the voters an opportunity to mark the «Against All Candidates» box.
- After marking the ballot, the voter deposits it into the ballot box personally before leaving the polling site. The ballot box is to remain in full view of those present and is not to be opened until the polling site closes and the vote count begins.
- If a voter is unable to sign the voters' list or needs assistance with marking the ballot, any person, including observers or representatives of candidates, may assist the voter. PEC members are not allowed to assist voters. If a voter is assisted with signing the voters' list or marking the ballot, his or her assistant must also sign the voters' list next to the voter.
- If a voter inadvertently makes an error or spoils the ballot he or she may return the ballot to the PEC and request a new ballot. A corresponding notation is made on the voters' list and the spoiled ballot is rendered void and retained by the commission.
- Observers and PEC members who attempt to disrupt the operation of the PEC or obstruct the implementation of the election rights of the voters are immediately withdrawn from participation in the work of the PEC.
- Candidates and their representatives, as well as representatives of election associations, blocs, and initiative voters' groups are not allowed to undertake any actions to facilitate the transfer of voters to polling stations.
14. Are there any special services available to voters on the election day?
Voting Outside Polling Station:
A voter who is unable to come to the polling station due to a health condition or any other good reason has the right to have a ballot box delivered to his or her place of residence. Each polling station is equipped with up to three mobile ballot boxes for this purpose. Voters who want a mobile ballot box delivered to their place of residence must apply to their PEC in advance in writing, call their respective polling stations on the day of voting or have other persons apply on their behalf at the PEC to request this service. When applying for this service, the voter must state the reason preventing him or her from coming to the polling station on the election day.
After signing a receipt for the number of ballots equal to the number of applications, election officials take the ballots and the mobile ballot boxes to the voters.
Observers and election commission members with deliberative votes are allowed to follow the mobile ballot boxes to the voters' places of residence.
Voters Who Intend to Be Away on the Election day:
Voters may apply to their PEC in advance for an absentee certificate that allows them to vote at any other polling station on election day. When an absentee certificate is issued to a voter, a notation is made on the voters' list at the voter's regular polling station. Upon presentation of an absentee certificate at another polling site, the voter's name is to be added to the list for that site and the voter is allowed to vote.
Voters Omitted from Voters' List:
Any voter who may have been inadvertently omitted from the voters' list may be added on election day upon presentation of appropriate identification that establishes the voter's residence in the area served by the polling station.
Under special circumstances, early voting may be authorized by SECs at remote sites such as polar stations, on ships at sea, and at other locations where conditions will not make it possible for voting to be accomplished on election day. Early voting may occur only within 15 days preceding the election.
15. When and where are ballots counted?
Ballots are counted at polling stations immediately following their closure by the PEC. Observers and authorized representatives may be present during the entire counting process and through completion of protocols of results. The vote count is conducted without a break until finished and election results are then made available to all members of the PEC and observers present at the polling station.
Mobile boxes are opened and the ballots from them are counted first. If it is discovered that the number of ballots inside exceeds the number of applications, the ballots are declared null and void and are not included in the count for the polling station.
16. How are results consolidated and reported?
Based on the results reported by individual precincts, territorial election commissions summarize the results for their territory. Observers are allowed to be present at the accumulation of results conducted by TECs.
A cumulative protocol containing the same categories of information reported by precincts is prepared by the TEC, as is a table, which reflects specific information provided by each polling station.
According to the election law, territorial election commissions have three days to complete the official protocols of summarized results. Territorial commissions are also required to publish results contained in their protocols not later than five days after the election and the precinct by precinct results must be published no later than 15 days after the election.
Upon receipt of the first copy of territorial protocols, subject election commissions summarize the results reported by territories into subject-wide results. Within five days of the election day, the SECs must have the subject election results compiled. A protocol must then be prepared and submitted to the CEC, where federal results are accumulated and finalized.
By April 6, 2000 the CEC must have completed the compilation of votes and have made them officially available to the public through the mass media.
At all levels, observers and authorized representatives may request certified copies of protocols.
17. What is the State Automated System? (SAS)
The State Automated Information System (SAS «Vybory») was created on August 23, 1994, by a special order of the President and since then has been used in all elections.
The State Automated System is being used during the Presidential elections for registering voters, compiling voters' lists, counting votes and determining election results, as well as for general rapid data transfer. The Central Election Commission determines when and where to use SAS «Vybory».
Information from the system is available to all members of election commissions as well as observers.
From the beginning of the voting until the signing of the protocol of election results, the State Automated System is used only for monitoring the voting process. The information provided by the System is not considered official.
18. When can election be declared invalid?
The election of the President of the Russian Federation can be considered as «not to have taken place» when either: a) there is a less than 50% voter turnout; or, b) the number of votes garnered by the most successful candidate is less than the number of votes cast for «Against All Candidates.»
In addition, presidential elections can be considered as «not to have taken place» in a case when violations committed during the voting process or tabulation of results do not allow for determining the will of the voters correctly. Election results can be invalidated if the number of polling stations where election results have been considered invalid is at least ¼ of the total number of polling stations. A court ruling can also invalidate election results.
19. How is the winner of the election determined?
A candidate is elected if he/she received more than half of the votes cast on official ballot papers.
20. What happens if there is no winner declared based on the election results?
In the event when no candidate received 50% of the votes cast, the Central Election Commission calls for a repeat voting for the two candidates who have received the largest numbers of votes in the first round.
Repeat voting is held 21 days from the day of the first round (April 16, 2000). The winner of the repeat voting is the candidate who has collected the majority of votes provided that the number of votes cast against all candidates is less than the number of votes garnered by this candidate.
Should the election of the President of the Russian Federation been considered as «not to have taken place,» invalid, or should both leading candidates remove their candidacies by the day of the repeat voting or none of the registered candidates be elected President in the second round of election, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation calls for a repeat election of the President.
A repeat election is held not later than within four months of the first round of the initial election or within not more than three months of the day when the initial election was considered invalid or «not to have taken place».
21. Where Does the Money Come From to Finance the Election Campaign?
Candidates finance their election campaigns using a variety of means. Every candidate must establish an election fund and open a bank account where these means accumulate. Candidates use their own means, money made available to them by election associations or initiative voters' groups that have nominated them, as well as voluntary donations from physical and legal entities. The state also allocates equal amounts of money to every candidate to conduct their election campaigns from the federal budget. The Central Election Commission remits these monies to candidates' election funds. Candidates who lose the election are obligated to return these monies to the federal government in full.
The election fund of a candidate cannot exceed 26 million rubles (a little less than $1 million). However, if there is a second round and a candidate participates in it, he/she can add 8 million more rubles to the election fund.
International organizations, foreign states, foreign citizens and legal entities, as well as persons with no citizenship, the underaged, and Russian legal entities with more than 30% of foreign capital are not allowed to make donations to candidates for election campaigning purposes. Russian organized public movements, Russian bodies of state power and self-government, public agencies and organizations, military units, law enforcement agencies, charitable and religious organizations are also prohibited from making donations to the election funds of candidates.
The Central Election Commission monitors the spending made from candidates' election funds. Candidates submit financial reports to the Central Election Commission three times during the election campaign. Copies of financial reports are made available to the mass media within five days of their receipt.
All candidates have equal rights. Incumbents may not use administrative resources available to them for campaigning purposes.
Candidates may not bribe voters. They are not allowed to distribute cash among voters or present them with gifts, organize discount sales of commodities, or render services on a free or discounted basis.