A Guide to Election Day
Election of Deputies of the State Duma
of the Russian Federation
19 December 1999
Christian Nadeau, Esq.
Germaine Q Wong
Senior Elections Advisor
This guide provides you general information about the election process for the election of deputies to the state duma of the Russian Federation. In addition, it includes a brief description of some of the procedures to be followed by election commission officials during Election Day. Finally, it offers you suggestions about the kinds of questions or points of examination you may wish to pursue as you observe the election. It is offered only as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the federal laws governing elections in the Russian Federation. Although this guide attempts to identify some key areas that likely deserve attention, you will need to adapt your work to particular circumstances as you encounter them.
The presence of international observers serves multiple purposes:
to encourage openness and transparency for the public, candidates, and Election associations (parties), blocs and initiative voters' groups who have nominated a candidate for president:
to raise public confidence in the process;
to deter those who would engage in improper practices or fraudulent activities;
to reduce opportunities for frivolous or misguided allegations of impropriety; and,
to provide information on which lawmakers, election officials and activists can assess the process and plan for future improvements.
As an observer from a foreign state or international organization, you serve in a unique capacity, because citizens, officials and election participants look to your views as key to the evaluation of the freeness and fairness of the election. Sometimes, the very presence of international observers is perceived as «legitimizing» the process. Therefore, it is very important that your efforts be unbiased, thoughtful and thorough if your observations are to be meaningful.
The first objective of neutral observation is to monitor election activities from a positive perspective. The second objective of election monitoring is to dissuade malpractice simply by being present at the polling stations. The third is to identify and note deliberate improper practices, particularly where they appear to be part of an organized effort. Minor irregularities or mistakes, particularly where they result from inexperience or unfamiliarity with the law, are of much less importance.
Please use the Observation Forms provided to record what you see and hear at the polling stations on Election Day.
Scope of Observation
In fulfilling these key objectives, it is also important to consider that the elections do not begin and end with the conduct of the poll on Election Day. To evaluate the election, therefore, observers should familiarize themselves with the political context in which the elections are taking place, the legal framework underpinning the elections, and the pre-election and campaign environments.
To prepare yourself for a successful observation effort on Election Day, there are a number of activities you should pursue. The scope of your pre-election inquiries can be quite broad. Be sure to read the election laws related to the conduct of the elections. You must read Articles 70-73, 75-78 which are attached. If possible, for the two days prior to election day try to arrange for meetings with key election participants such as Election Officials at the subject, territorial, and precinct levels, a variety of Electoral associations and initiative groups who have nominated candidates, human rights organizations and other politically active organizations. Try to assess their attitudes and general confidence in the process.
Attempt to ascertain how the media is handling the coverage of the election and whether campaign coverage appears to be open and fair. Determine what voter education efforts have been made and how well citizens appear to be motivated. As you pursue your activities you will become aware of other areas of investigation which only help to broaden your understanding of the election process as a whole, and assist you in assessing your findings in a meaningful context.
General Standards of Conduct for International Observers
As you carry out your mission it is important that you adhere to a few general standards to ensure that your sensitive role is not compromised.
1. Maintain absolute neutrality and impartiality throughout your observation mission.
2. You are simply an observer. Observe, but never disrupt or interfere with the voting, counting or any other phases of the election process.
3. Ask questions and express concerns, but do not interfere with the election process. Also, do not instruct, give orders or attempt to countermand decisions of the election officials. Comments should generally be addressed to the chairman of the election commission.
4. Be vigilant and take detailed notes on positive aspects of the process as well as those describing questionable or irregular voting or counting practices. Include information as to the place and time as well as identifying witnesses, if circumstances warrant them. Your conclusions should be based on verifiable, factual evidence.
5. Recognize that some mistakes may be made by election officials because of inexperience or unfamiliarity with the new laws, rather than because of any deliberate intention to compromise the integrity of the process. Do not treat every mistake or variation in established practice as deliberate cheating. When minor mistakes come to the attention of the chairmen of the precinct Election commissions, they are usually prepared to correct the problem immediately.
6. If you encounter serious problems at a polling site, you may choose to bring them to the attention of a superior election commission. You may want to consider contacting your delegation's headquarters for instructions or advice.
7. Consider returning to the polling site later in the day, if serious concerns about irregularities or potential fraud justify another look or increased observer presence. You may want to tell each PEC that you intend to return later in the day. (You may only return to one or two, but this will put the PEC's on alert.)
8. On election day, refrain from contacts with the news media and follow the guidance given you by your sponsoring organization. If contact with a journalist is unavoidable, limit your remarks to information about the nature of your activity (e.g. I can only say that I'm an accredited observer with the XXX international Association). Refrain from providing opinions to the news media as to the general fairness or honesty of the election based on your individual experiences or observations.
Rights of Observers
From the Federal Law on the Election of Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Article 29 provides for «Openness in the Activity of Election Commissions.» Under this article, election committees are required to conduct their activities publicly and openly. Candidates, their attorneys, as well as authorized representatives of electoral associations, election blocs, initiative voters' groups and representatives of mass media are entitled to be present at the sessions of the election committees. International observers are also allowed to be present.
On election day, observers designated by candidates, and representatives of the organizations previously cited are also entitled to be present at polling stations from the beginning of the work of the precinct election commission to the completion of the protocols summarizing the voting results. According to the law, no preliminary notification of observers going to a polling station is required. In addition to these basic entitlement afforded by the law, observers are allowed to:
be present at voting outside the polling station by voters who cannot come to the polling place because of health reasons or other a circumstances;
familiarize themselves with the voter lists;
make suggestions or remarks to precinct election commissions;
appeal actions or omissions of precinct election commissions to higher election commissions.
The law restricts observers from interfering with the actions of precinct election commissions. However, its provisions also mandates that chairmen of the precinct election commissions are to consider suggestions of observers, even if they warrant hearing at a session of the precinct election commission.
The area surrounding a polling station is the election precinct. Each polling station is run by the precinct election commission (PEC). The PEC is composed of a chairman, deputy chairman, secretary and up to six other members, all nominated by the local council. These are the only members who may vote on decisions of the PEC. In addition to these voting members, each candidate for Duma deputy is entitled to nominate one member to the PEC with a 'consultative vote'. The latter members can attend and participate in PEC sessions but have no vote in decisions of the PEC.
Opening of the polls
Polling stations open for voting at 08:00 (local time).
Try to be there at least 30 minutes early. Show your credentials at the door, ask to see the PEC chairman or deputy chairman, and introduce yourselves Ask how things are going, and ask who else is present apart from voters. Introduce yourself to other persons present, including candidate representatives. Recognize that the PEC will be busy setting up the polling station and preparing for voting.
Before voting begins on election day, the chairman of the PEC declares the station open. In the presence of other PEC members, observers and voters (s)he displays the empty precinct and mobile ballot boxes and then seals them. Voting then begins.
Visiting polling stations
You are entitled to visit any polling station. You will probably have time to visit 10-15 polling stations in the course of the day. It is for you to decide where you go and in what order, in consultation with your sponsoring organization. Do not give territorial commissions or other authorities your plans regarding the polling sites you plan to visit.
Do not take any photographs or video footage without first asking permission from the PEC Chair.
Suggestions for Observers
Begin your observations even before you arrive at the polling station. Survey the town or neighborhood for evidence of campaigning or suspicious activity nearby.
Take note of any buses or carloads of voters approaching the polling place or any unusual number of voters coming to the polling station from one particular place.
Note the location, accessibility and sufficiency of the polling station. Observe indications of disorganization such as unusually long lines or people who appear to be milling around without purpose. Also note the presence of police or other government officials lingering at the polling station.
Campaigning is prohibited beginning 00:00 a.m. on the day before the election and on election day. Look for the presence of unauthorized partisan campaign materials such as candidate pamphlets, party literature or unofficial voter instructions. Take note of campaign activity or incentives which may be offered to voters as they come to the polling site.
With the least possible disruption of election activities, try to talk with other members of the commission as well as candidate's representatives and observers representing public associations. Look for peculiar signs of tension or dissension.
While talking with political party observers, make sure no precinct election official is close enough to hear your discussion.
Confirm that all persons working as election officials and issuing or handling ballots are duly appointed members of the commission.
Notice whether there are individuals or groups lingering about who are not officials, voters waiting to vote or authorized observers.
Take notice of the layout and organization of the polling site, including the division of tasks among commission members, placement of the tables and election materials, voting booths, and the ballot box. Determine if the layout provides for a reasonable flow of traffic, efficiency and adequate security of materials.
Does the layout and placement of the voting booths provide adequate privacy to safeguard the secrecy of a person's vote?
Is the ballot box in plain view of officials and observers?
Look at the layout and determine if observers can see everything. Are representatives of the candidates or Electoral associations being restricted or hindered in their observations?
Ask the chairman to verify and acknowledge the number of ballots initially received by the station and the number of total voters on the voter list.
On the voters list, are there any unusual annotations next to the names of people? If yes, ask for an explanation for each one (e.g. death, moved, absentee certificate, etc.)
Pay a visit during election day to the territorial election commission to assess any issues, complaints they may have received.
Inside the polling station you should find voting booths or some other arrangement to ensure that voters can vote in complete secrecy. Each booth should be equipped with pens, not pencils.
Immediately in front of the polling station or inside it there should be an official display of election information. This will probably be a series of posters printed by the Central Election Commission. The posters must include a demonstration ballot with an «X» placed in one box. The ballot should not be a copy of the actual ballot, and if there are any names listed on the demonstration ballot they should not be those of the actual candidates.
Please note that you may be in a District that also has local elections. In these Districts, the voter will be given a ballot for each position up for election. For example, in Moscow, each voter will receive 4 ballots - one for the Duma deputy federal list, one for the single-mandate district, one for Mayor, and one for the City Council.
Alongside the demonstration ballot should be a list of the actual candidates with a short description of each. The description must not contain anything constituting a recommendation to vote for that candidate.
Who should be in the polling station?
Most members of the PEC will be present most of the day, and probably all will attend the count. The PEC is authorized to employ assistants, although they should not participate directly in the count. In addition there will be domestic observers, representatives of the media and international observers. Each candidate is entitled to appoint a representative with the right to observe the whole voting and counting process on voting day. One or two police officers are likely to be present at all times.
The voter list
Territorial Election Commissions prepare the voter lists to include eligible voters residing within the election precinct served by the polling station. The inclusion of a voter's name on the list is based on information provided by the local executive bodies. Compilation of the voter lists may be in alphabetical order or in some other order such as by address or in order of streets or settlements. The list includes each voter's surname, first name, patronymic name, year of birth (including the date of birth for voters who are 18) and address of permanent residence. Copies of the voter lists are made in duplicate with one copy being retained by the Territorial Election Commission, and the other being provided to the respective Precinct Election Commission.
Full time students living in dormitories are identified on lists established for the location of the dormitory. Individuals serving in the military and living on the premises as well as their families are added to lists based on information provided by the commanders of military units. The voter lists prepared for precincts set up in hospitals, sanatoriums and isolated sites, and diplomatic missions outside the Federation are compiled based on information provided by the heads of those institutions and missions.
Voters are given the opportunity to verify their inclusion on the voter lists or request appropriate corrections, and have the right to appeal any adverse decision which affects them. Voter lists for the election of deputies of the duma are made available for public scrutiny not later than 30 days prior to the election. Should the application of a citizen to be added to the voter list be refused by the Precinct Election Commission, the voter will receive written notice of the rejection within 24 hours.
Voter lists at polling stations should include every Russian citizen residing within the election precinct aged 18 or over. Persons deemed to be incapacitated or held in detention on polling day are ineligible to vote.
Voters who know that they will be away from the precinct on Election Day may apply in advance for absentee voting certificates from their PEC. They are crossed off the voter list for that precinct and entered in the precinct Register of Absentee Voting Certificates.
Absentee voting certificates may be presented at any other precinct. The voter is added to the list of voters when (s)he presents the certificate.
A special mark should appear in the list of voters against the names of any voters using a mobile ballot box (see below). Check that no signature also appears against these names on the list of voters.
Design and text of the ballots in the Russian language are determined by the Central Election Commission. (For local elections, it would be the applicable election commission.) Ballots are to be printed only on one side. Ballots are delivered to the polling stations not later than 4 days prior to the election. The number of ballots issued to each station may not exceed the number of voters on the voters lists by more than .5%.
For Russian Republics, the Subject Election Commission decides if ballots will be printed in the state language of the republic as well as in Russian. As necessary, ballots may also be printed in a second language in locations where minority populations are concentrated.
Ballots for single-mandate duma deputy elections contain the full names of the registered candidates in alphabetical order. In addition, the candidate's place of work, occupation or title of office held, and residence address is listed. If the candidate was nominated by an Electoral association or bloc, the name of the association or bloc is identified as is the candidate's affiliation to a specific political party or other public association. Candidates who are nominated directly by initiative voters' groups may include identification of party affiliation at their own discretion.
At the end of the listing of candidates, voters are offered the option of voting for «None of the Candidates.» Ballots also include instructions as to how they are to be marked. The ballots are traditionally not sequentially numbered, nor generally padded or attached to a counterfoil. They are usually maintained in stacks.
For the federal district, the ballots contain the emblem of and abbreviated names of registered electoral associations, electoral blocs which have nominated a slate of candidates. Furthermore, the first, middle and last names of each of the first three candidates on the federal part of a federal slate. At the end of the listing, a line reading «Against all federal lists of candidates.»
Each ballot issued to a voter must be signed in the upper right hand corner by 2 members of the Commission and confirmed with the official stamp of the polling station. Usually the ballots are signed and stamped in advance.
In the event that a candidate withdraws from the race after the ballots are printed officials at the polling stations are instructed by the Central Election Commission to cross out the information related to the withdrawn candidate.
Voters mark their ballots by placing their mark in the box to the right of their choice.
Suggestions for Observers
Observe the issuance of the ballots. Are they handed to the voter by the official, or is the voter allowed to take the ballot from the pile himself?
Note whether the ballots are maintained in tidy, secure piles. Are they secured from being handled by unauthorized persons?
Determine if the ballots have been appropriately signed by 2 commission members and stamped with the official seal of the polling station. Determine when the required marks are affixed, before voting begins, or as the ballots are issued.
Ask when the ballots and other voting materials were received and how they were secured prior to election day.
The voting procedure
Each voter is required to vote in person. Voting on behalf of another person is prohibited.
Each voter must present his or her passport or other type of identification to receive a ballot. The officials find the voter's name on the voter list and have the voter sign next to his or her name. If the voter requests it, the official will write the voter's identification number in the list next to the voter's name.
The voter is directed to the voting booth where s/he marks the ballot in private. Only one person is supposed to be in the voting booth at a time. In the event a voter is unable to vote without assistance, s/he is entitled to be accompanied by another person who is required to sign on the list of voters for receipt of the ballot next to the signature of the voter who is being assisted. The assistant may not be a member of the Precinct Election Commission, a domestic or international observer or representative of a candidate.
When the voter has completed marking the ballot, the voter deposits the ballot in the ballot box personally. The ballot box is supposed to be placed in plain view of the officials and observers who can ensure that the voter deposits the ballot before leaving the polling station. (Note: There are two types of ballot boxes for each polling station - a stationary ballot box that stays there and up to three mobile ballot boxes for those voting outside the precinct station.)
Exceptions to the Routine
Replacement Ballot If a voter has mismarked their ballot, or the ballot is damaged in some way, voters are entitled to return it to the election officials and receive a new ballot. The officials make a notation on the voter list in front of the name of the person who has been issued a replacement ballot and immediately renders the spoiled ballot void. The voided ballots will ultimately be enumerated during the preparation of the protocol at the end of the count.
Voting Outside the Polling Station Following past traditions, the Duma election law allows voters to cast their vote at home if for health or other reasons they are unable to attend the polling station. No cut off-date for requesting use of a mobile box is specified. A request to use these boxes can be made in person, by telephone, or through a third party, at any time up to the end of polling day.
At one or more points during the polling hours, at least 2 PEC members will take the mobile ballot box to assist these voters. The PEC members are required to sign a receipt for the number of ballots issued to them equal to the number of applications of voters voting outside the polling station (including oral applications) they have received.
When PEC members arrive, the voter signs the acknowledgment of her/his application before being issued a ballot to vote in private. As in the polling station, voters unable to place their mark by themselves should not be assisted by members of the PEC. When the ballot has been marked, the voter deposits the ballot into the mobile ballot box. Observers are allowed to accompany the mobile ballot box if they choose.
Upon return to the polling station, a special mark is placed on the list of voters against the names of those who have voted using mobile boxes. PEC members are to account for the number of applications as well as the number of used and unused ballots from mobile voting on a separate statement.
Voter's Name Not on the Voter List. Voters who presents themselves at the polling station and whose names cannot be found on the voter list may be added to the list if they adequately demonstrate their eligibility through the presentation of appropriate identification establishing their residence within the precinct served by the polling station. In addition, voters who are away from their normal polling station on election day and who present their certificates of the right to participate will also be added to the list and allowed to vote.
Suggestions for Observers
Ask how many voters are on the list and how many have actually presented themselves to vote. Write down the numbers and make a note of the time. As you proceed throughout the day you will get a feel for the turnout trend.
Ask if anyone has been turned away because their name did not appear on the list or they did not have appropriate I.D. Ask how these situations were handled and how the problems were resolved. Take note of how many of them had this problem and if this was noted on the protocol.
Compare the total number of voters on the list and the number of voters noted as having voted on the list outside the polling station. Determine if there seems to be a high number of voters voting outside the polling station. Ask to examine the lists and note how names have been so marked.
Watch to see if voters are attempting to vote on behalf of others. Is family voting being attempted? Observe whether officials are allowing them to do so. Do not interfere. As an observer, you may ask questions and take notes, but you may not interfere with the election process or try to run the polling station.
Note if anyone in the polling station appears to be assisting a sizeable number of voters to complete their ballot.
Note whether voter secrecy is being maintained or whether people are being allowed to enter the voting booth together.
Ask if anyone seems to be assisting more than one voter.
Accompany the mobile ballot box, if possible. Observe whether ballots are being properly accounted for, and note the procedures being followed. Determine if mobile voting is being used for its intended purpose, or also to solicit participation by voters supporting a particular candidate or as a means of increasing voter turnout.
Ask the Chairman if there have been any disturbances, irregularities or complaints. Ask how they have been resolved.
If confidentiality and discretion are possible, try to ask candidate and association observers if they have been generally satisfied with the voting process and the performance of the commission. Be aware of any unusual tension that might exist.
Determine if undue pressure appears to be applied to voters or if instructions are handed out to with the ballot.
Any oral complaints made in the course of polling day, whether by voters, observers or others present, should be dealt with by the chairman of the PEC. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response (s)he may put the complaint into writing. This complaint must then be attached to the protocol of results and forwarded to the territorial election commission.
Close of Voting
Choose the polling station you wish to watch the vote count. You may wish to choose one that was especially troublesome. Plan to arrive there at least 15 minutes before the polling station closes at 20:00 local time.
No one may be admitted to the voter line after 20:00, but everyone who has already entered the polling station may proceed to receive their ballots and vote.
The count should begin immediately after the polling station closes and the last voters have cast their votes.
The count is conducted only by voting members of the PEC (i.e. not members representing the candidates).
The PEC is to arrange tables in a line for the count following recommendations from superior election commissions. They work on one side of the tables. Observers, media and candidate representatives stand on the other side. The CEC has recommended that observers stand two to three metres from the counting tables.
You should be allowed to stand close enough to the count to see exactly what is happening. Address the chairman of the PEC directly if this does not happen. The PEC's have been instructed specifically to ensure that the tables used for counting are arranged in such a way that observers, candidate representatives can observe the PEC at work.
Please note that in no event should you touch any of the ballot papers, the ballot box seals or any other critical documents. If you want to check something, e.g. the reason for invalidating a ballot written on the back of the ballot, ask for it to be shown to you.
The results of each stage of the count should be announced out loud and ultimately entered in the results sheet, or 'protocol' (Protocol of the Precinct Election commission on Vote Returns). PEC's have been advised to display a large copy of the protocol to make it easier for observers to see the results as they are reached.
Each polling station will have one protocol for each election. Protocol No. 1 of Voting Returns for the single-mandate electoral district and Protocol No. 2 of Voting Returns for the federal electoral district. There will be additional protocols for local elections.
Samples of the Protocol No. 1 and Protocol No. 2 are attached. They are not exact copies of the actual protocols, but they do contain the essence of them.
Unused and Spoiled Ballots
Before any boxes are opened, unused ballots and spoiled ballots are counted. They should all be cancelled by cutting the bottom right comer.
Mobile Ballot Boxes
Before counting ballots in a mobile ballot box, the PEC Chair announces the number of voters who deposited ballots in the particular mobile ballot box. The first ballots to be counted are those deposited by early voting voters in the mobile ballot box. Next, ballots in the mobile ballot boxes for those voting outside the polling station are counted.
Before opening each ballot box, the integrity of the seal on the box is checked. Anyone at the Polling Station may inspect the seal before it is broken and the box is opened. All ballots are then taken out of the ballot box, and the non-standard format ballots are separated and counted. The standard ballots are then counted, announced and entered onto the enlarged protocol form. If the number of standard ballots found in the first mobile ballot box does not exceed the previously announced number of voters who used that box, the next box is opened.
If, however, the number of standard ballots exceeds the number of voters previously announced as having used the particular mobile ballot box, all the ballots in that box are declared invalid by a vote of the PEC. A separate protocol is made with the information and attached to the appropriate protocol. This separate protocol must include the names of the PEC members who carried out the early voting and/or the voting outside the polling station.
After all the mobile ballot boxes have been opened and the standard ballots counted, the PEC adds up all the tallies and enters the total number of valid and invalid ballots (for each category of invalid ballots) onto the protocols.
Polling Station Ballot Boxes
Finally, the polling station ballot box (or boxes) is opened. Again, the valid and invalid ballots are separated and the numbers of each are entered into the protocols.
Before separating the ballots by candidate/party/association/bloc, a PEC member counts and announces the number of voters who have used absentee voting certificates at the polling station and the number of voters holding such certificates who voted at that polling station. These numbers are entered on the protocol.
Suggestions for Observers
Check to see that none of the seals on the ballot boxes have been broken.
Do the number of applications for voting outside the polling station match or exceed the number of ballots cast as such?
Can all the observers see the inspection and counting processes?
Try to check that one of the following applies to any ballots placed in the 'invalid' pile.
No mark was made on the ballot.
A mark is placed in more than one box.
A mark is placed against the name of a candidate who has withdrawn from the elections. Three members of the PEC must sign the back of invalidated ballots on the back, indicating the reason for invalidation.
The count and completion of the protocols
The ballots from all the ballot boxes are combined and then they are stacked by election (e.g. one stack for duma federal lists election, another for duma single mandate election, and additional stacks for each of the local elections.) The first stacks to be counted are the two for the duma deputies. Only after Protocol No. 1 and 2 have been completed and signed by the PEC may the vote count for other elections begin.
Thus, the PEC starts by taking the duma deputy single-mandate election stack and sorting the ballots by candidate and «against all candidates,» and, at the same time, separating out non-standard and invalid ballots. As the ballots are sorted, voting members of the PEC announce the marks on the ballots and produce the ballots for visual examination to everyone present.
After the ballots are sorted, the stack for each candidate and «against all candidates» is counted separately by at least two PEC members. The results are announced and entered onto Protocol No. 1. All the invalid ballots from the mobile and polling station boxes are counted, the result announced and entered onto the Protocol. These results are also posted onto the enlarged display protocol.
When the validity of a ballot is unclear, the PEC decides if it is valid or invalid by majority vote. For each invalid ballot, the rationale is written on the backside of the ballot and signed by no fewer than three PEC members. Ballots cast for candidates who were no longer on the ballot by election day are tallied and packaged separately. Observers may see all these ballots as well.
The number of valid ballots cast for each candidate is entered onto the protocol in the box to the right of the candidate.
The number of valid ballots cast for «Against All Candidates» is entered in the box to the right of the line at the end of the list of candidates for «Against All Candidates.»
After completion of Protocol No. 1, similar procedures are followed for the federal district duma deputy election and the resulting numbers are entered into Protocol No. 2. The remaining elections are then counted one by one in accordance with federal and local elections laws.
Vote Count Reconciliation
All the numbers entered into the protocol are reconciled by adding lines 3, 5 and 6 which should be equal to or less than line 1. The sum of lines 3, 4, 5 and 6 should equal the number on line 2. The sum of lines 7 and 8 should equal the sum of lines 9 and 10. Line 9 should equal the sum of line 18 and all subsequent lines. If there are discrepancies, further calculations and reviews are outlined by the Central Election Commission.
Afterwards, Protocol No. 1 and Protocol No. 2 are reconciled. Please see the attachment on Counting for more details.
The protocol must be completed in the presence of observers in pen, not pencil, and must contain no corrections. It is written up in three original copies, each one signed by every member of the PEC.
Any member of the PEC who disagrees with the figures recorded in it may write a dissenting note, which must be attached to the protocol. If a member is absent the reason for absence must be noted in the protocol.
You are entitled to have your own certified copy of the protocol. Ask for certified copies immediately. Please note, however, that in some locations, making copies may be highly impractical due to lack of copying facilities or other such reasons. Obtaining a copy, or making your own copy, will allow the precinct results to be tracked up through the summary of precinct results published by the TEC and the next higher level, the subject of the Federation election commission.
To be certified the chairman, deputy chairman or secretary of the PEC must sign the protocol copy and stamp it with the official PEC stamp.
Packing the Ballots
All ballots must be packed and sealed in the presence of observers, candidate representatives and journalists. Cancelled, non-standard and invalid ballots are packed separately.
If any written complaints have been made to the PEC on polling day these must be attached to the applicable protocol, together with any decisions made in response to them by the PEC. Certified copies of these documents are attached to the second, but not the third copy of the protocol.
The second copy of the protocol together with the sealed ballots and a list of all persons present at the count is taken by the Secretary of the PEC, who must keep it until the PEC is dissolved.
The third copy must be shown to any person present at their request.
Processing of Results
Precinct results must be delivered as soon as the count is finished to the territorial election commission (TEC). TEC results are sent to the election commission of the subject of the Federation (SEC). The subjects of the Federation send their results to the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Moscow.
Where a territorial or higher election commission discovers mistakes or discrepancies in a protocol it may order a recount in the commission lower down.
As you attend counts at different levels of election commissions, check that the results recorded in the lower commission are accurately reflected in the protocol of each higher commission.
Territorial Election Commissions
After you have observed the counting, you should follow the PEC members delivering the protocols to the TEC.
Together with candidate representatives, journalists and other observers you are entitled to attend TEC counts. As you watch, verify that the numbers the TEC writes in for the polling station you observed are the same as the ones you received from the PEC. If the numbers are keyed into a computer, watch to see that the numbers on the protocols are the numbers being keyed in. When the TEC has completed its protocols, ask for certified copies.
After the TEC has completed its work, if it is not too late, follow the protocols being delivered to the District Election Commission.
District Election Commissions
The DEC's will review the protocols received from the TEC's in their district, and then, most likely phone in the numbers on the protocols. As before, check to see that the numbers being phoned in are the same numbers as those on the protocols.
Subject Election Commissions
The morning after the election, go to the Subject Election Commission offices. The SEC must indicate both the aggregate totals and a breakdown of results from each TEC. Check to see that the numbers for the TEC you observed are the same as the numbers the SEC has entered. Ask for a certified copy of the SEC protocol.
Please write your impressions of the protocol process at each commission level that you observed.
After the polling station has closed, has the PEC properly counted and voided all the remaining unused ballots?
Were the election commissioners prepared with appropriate and sufficient supplies?
Did they appear to know what they were doing?
Were they following the proper procedures?
How did the PEC resolve discrepancies?
Was there a significant presence of local authorities during the count?
Was there free access for candidate representatives and journalists to witness the count at the PEC, TEC, DEC and SEC?
Could observers see the ballots sufficiently to determine the validity of the ballots, the marks on the ballots, and the proper stacking of the ballots?
Were the ballot boxes opened in the proper order?
Were the protocols completed accurately?
Is the information on the protocols accurate?
Guide to Polling Day