Facilitating Voting among Individuals in Pre-Trial Prisons in the Forthcoming Parliamentary Elections through Promotion of Political Culture
November 1999 - January 2000
Funded by: Canada Fund
Within the framework of this project IESD:
1. Joined efforts with the Center for Criminal Justice Reform and developed and published a 30-page brochure designed specifically for individuals in pre-trial prisons to motivate them to vote. The brochure provided basic information about voting rights and voting procedures, quoting and explaining some excerpts from the Constitution and Russian election laws. The brochure described the venue detainees may choose to use while in prison in order to participate in the voting process and cast their ballots. Brochures contained four blank pages in the middle to detach and use for feedback. In addition, a pen and two pre-paid postcards were attached to each brochure, one with a pre-filled address and a short questionnaire, and the other one blank - a gift from IESD to project participants who in their current conditions have often no means to purchase mailing stationery. These blank postcards carried New Year 2000 pictures and contained disclaimers about the source of funding that paid for them so that prison personnel could not use them for their private purposes. And finally, the brochure contained information about political parties and election associations and blocs that were registered to participate in the 1999 parliamentary elections. A renowned professional cartoonist was hired to supply illustrations to the brochure.
2. The brochure was printed and distributed in the amount of over 5,000 copies through IESD contact network, direct access to some of the head wardens, staff of the Human Rights Commissioner, and a certain department within the Ministry of Justice among 13 detention facilities located in Moscow and Moscow region. In addition, copies of the brochure were distributed among police stations and investigation prisons and territorial and precinct election commissions of the above mentioned area. Thus, IESD reminded election officials of their responsibility to facilitate participation of detained individuals in the election process. In addition, IESD made it known to detention facility managers that the public was watching them.
3. On the voting day IESD and some IFES representatives visited some of the detention facilities located in Moscow and Moscow region to monitor the organization of the voting process for the inmates.
4. Weeks later IESD received feedback from the people who had participated in the voting process encouraged by IESD. The feedback indicated that all ballots cast by the project target group were conscious votes. Slightly 20 percent of the people who had received the brochures sent in their feedback. This indicator exceeded the target figure therefore the project was considered a success.