President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to hear how the elections went yesterday in our country, what are the preliminary results, and was everything in keeping with the laws?
chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Vladimir Churov: Elections to regional parliaments took place in five regions yesterday. The elections were declared valid in all five regions. The main point to note is that in all of the regions, except Sakhalin Region, the voter turnout was much higher than for regional parliamentary elections in the past. Voter turnout was up by several dozen percent in Kemerovo Region and by 7–8 percent in the other regions. This shows that voters are becoming a lot more politically active.
The elections went calmly and without serious incident in all five regions. We are examining all complaints or remarks coming in. This work began yesterday, we continue to work on them today, but they could not affect the preliminary results. The final results will come in from the regions very soon and will arrive at our information centre.
We had an information centre running yesterday in Moscow for the first time on a common regional election day, and this enabled all voters, not only those living in the regions where the elections were taking place, to see the results as they came in. This was possible in large part thanks to the work of our colleagues in the regions and in the municipal electoral commissions, where elections were taking place for mayors, city assemblies, Dumas and councils – they all have different names in the different towns.
The experiment in the town of Novomoskovsk to test a prototype for electronic voting using the Internet was a success. Our most optimistic estimate was that around 10 percent of voters in the district would take part (this involved making a voluntary repeat vote after the general vote), but in actual fact 25 percent of voters on the list, that is to say, 62 percent of those who actually came to cast their vote, took part in the experiment.
Dmitry Medvedev: So, you can draw some conclusions now based on the results.
Vladimir Churov: Yes, furthermore, we have already compared the data from the electronic exit poll using the Internet with the data from the preliminary count of votes, and the difference is only 1–2 percent. No one managed to disrupt Internet traffic or hack into the programme. Everything worked as planned.
Dmitry Medvedev: You say no one managed. This means there were attempted attacks?
Vladimir Churov: Some small attempts did take place. The hackers were ready and waiting ever since we announced that we would be conducting this experiment, but we managed to establish close ‘cooperation’ with some of them.
Dmitry Medvedev: I see. But still I suggest that you work with them within the limits set by the law, the general and administrative laws on elections, and the criminal legislation.
Vladimir Churov: Unfortunately, we do not as yet have election laws making it possible to conduct regular voting by Internet, but the results of this experiment could serve as a basis for reflection.
Dmitry Medvedev: This technology definitely should be developed because it will inevitably start being used quite soon, including with the right of the casting vote, I mean the real vote that will count when summing up the results. But we will have to make changes to our legislation of course to make this possible, and ensure that every citizen has the possibility of expressing their will using these means, because at the moment this is not the case.
I hope the results achieved yesterday, and what you have reported today, will help to ensure that the authorities can continue effectively carrying out their functions and give maximum transparency to the decision-making process.
Vladimir Churov: Thank you, Dmitry Anatolyevich.