The Direct Democracy Party, which advocates the development and improvement of the system of remote electronic voting (DEG), proposed the creation of a working group to prepare amendments that would eliminate the existing shortcomings of online voting. This idea was supported by representatives of several non-parliamentary parties and three parliamentary parties, one of which, New People, has already expressed its readiness to submit a corresponding bill to the State Duma. The cross-party group is expected to formulate its proposals by March 2023.
Problems of the DEG The Party of Direct Democracy (PPD) proposed to discuss on November 24 in the format of an "open microphone". In the speeches of the politicians and experts who came to the event, the idea that “the DEG is with us forever”, which means that we need to work on its refinement, “even if we don’t like it”, sounded every now and then.
However, online voting was criticized mainly from a technical point of view. Only one of the speakers said that the problem with the DEG was the stuffing of electronic ballots. Other participants, among whom there were no representatives of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Yabloko (these parties are the most zealous critics of the DEG and demand its abolition), did not argue with this thesis and concentrated on issues of increasing the transparency of the system, which, in their opinion, would also solve the problem of distrust of the DEG.
As Oleg Artamonov, Secretary General of the PAP, explained, instead of sabotaging the DEG, the parties should move to a constructive discussion and create an inter-party group that could transform the accumulated claims into amendments.
Mr. Artamonov immediately listed some of the existing problems. Thus, he complained about the vagueness of the wording in the resolution of the Central Election Commission on the procedure for holding the DEG, the insufficiently regulated work of observers and inconsistencies in the work schedules of the territorial election commission (TEC) of the DEG and regional election commissions.
In particular, the party member, who for two years served as deputy chairman of the TEC DEG, said that TEC DEG can download the data (ballots and voter lists) necessary for the start of voting in the regions only simultaneously, which creates problems for the subjects due to the time difference. For the same reasons, the regions cannot receive the results of the DEG in time, he noted: “In the last elections, online voting took place in three time zones. As a result, voting in Tomsk has long passed, they are waiting for the protocols, but they have to wait five hours until the voting ends in Kaliningrad, because we cannot enter the results separately.”
If all 89 regions start using the DEG, then we will talk about 11 time zones and 120 million voters, and then it is necessary to create commissions on the DEG in the regions, Oleg Artamonov is sure.
However, the transfer of functions to the regions, in his opinion, can give rise to a number of other problems - for example, a lack of qualified personnel and "discrepancy in the approaches and scenarios of the DEG" due to the ambiguity of the wording in the law.
There are problems with the very composition of the TEC DEG, Mr. Artamonov added. For example, the TEC now includes only representatives of parliamentary parties, but after the DEG enters the level of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, parties that have deputies in regional parliaments should also enter the commission, he is sure. According to the head of the PAP, the development of a “gold standard of the DEG” (by analogy with the already existing “gold standard of the work of the polling station”) can solve the existing problems, where it is necessary to clearly spell out the technical aspects of the system, eliminate ambiguous wording in the “order of the DEG”, in detail describe the scenarios for conducting the DEG and the methodology of the work of observers. This work should be started immediately in order to complete it before the spring of 2023, summed up Oleg Artamonov.
Party representatives also made proposals for improving the DEG. Thus, the Greens proposed to train ordinary voters to check the registration of their votes, the Green Alternative - it is mandatory to collect signatures electronically when applying the DEG, A Just Russia - For Truth - to take into account its amendments, ignored when the law on the DEG was adopted, the Liberal Democratic Party - to expand information about candidates on the electronic platform. And the New People expressed their readiness to submit a bill to the Duma that would reflect the provisions of the proposed “gold standard” PAP. By the way, most of the ideas for improving the DEG came from the New People: in particular, they advocated the development of a mechanism for pre-trial verification of complaints against the DEG and the creation of a regulation on access to the electronic list of voters.
After the end of the event, PPD representatives told Kommersant that they were satisfied with the results of the discussion and intended to form a working group in the near future.