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Russian Federation: Experimental E-voting to Be Conducted in Moscow City Duma Elections

(June 24, 2019) On May 29, 2019, the President of the Russian Federation signed a federal law allowing experimental distance electronic voting in the elections of representatives of the Moscow City Duma (state legislature). ( Russian Federation Federal Law on Conducting an Experiment on the Organization and Implementation of Remote Electronic Voting in Elections of Deputies of the Moscow City Duma of the Seventh Convocation, FL 103 , May 29, 2019, Pravo official legal information website (in Russian).)
As indicated in the Law’s explanatory note, the goal of the Law is to test technological innovations in the election processes with the aim of replicating the experiment in future elections (local and federal) and amending existing elections laws, allowing integration of modern technologies in the electoral processes. ( Russian Federation Federal Law on Conducting an Experiment on the Organization and Implementation of Remote Electronic Voting in Elections of Deputies of the Moscow City Duma of the Seventh Convocation, Explanatory Note , State Duma website (in Russian).)
Before FL 103’s enactment, the Moscow City Duma had adopted similar law on May 22, 2019. ( Law of the City of Moscow on Conducting an Experiment on the Organization and Implementation of Remote Electronic Voting in Elections of Deputies of the Moscow City Duma of the Seventh Convocation , May 22, 2019, Moscow City Duma website (in Russian).)
The new e-voting will be conducted on September 8, 2019—the Moscow City Duma election day—in three out of 45 single-mandate districts of the Moscow City Duma. ( Moscow City Election Commission, Resolution No. 95/5 on Distant Electronic Voting in the Course of the Moscow City Duma Election on September 8, 2019 (June 13, 2019), Moscow City Election Commission website (in Russian).)
FL 103 defines remote electronic voting as casting a paperless ballot utilizing special software of the regional portal of the state and municipal services of the City of Moscow.  (FL 103, art. 2.)
The new Law also establishes the authority of election commissions to carry out the experimental e-voting. ( Id. art. 4.) Some of the key provisions concerning e-voting procedures are as follows:

The Moscow City Election Commission is to determine in which single-mandate electoral districts the e-voting will be held. ( Id .)
The Territorial Election Commission is to establish one polling station and a Precinct Election Commission for electronic voting. ( Id .)
The Precinct Election Commission provides for distance electronic voting, including the voting carried out on the premises of the Precinct Electoral Commission for electronic voting; reports the results of the distance electronic voting to the district electoral commission; and shares the results of the report with election observers. ( Id .)
The procedures and standards for verifying e-voting results and reporting by the Precinct Electoral Commission are spelled out in the Law of the City of Moscow on Conducting Experimental E-voting. (Law of the City of Moscow on Conducting an Experiment on the Organization and Implementation of Remote Electronic Voting art. 10.)
FL 103 authorizes the Precinct Election Commission to review complains and grievances with regard to distance electronic voting. (FL 103, art. 4.)

In order to be able to vote remotely, voters must submit an application to the Moscow City Election Commission in accordance with the order established by the Moscow City Election Commission, utilizing special software issued by the regional and municipal services of the City of Moscow. ( Id . art. 3, § 5.) Submitting an application for electronic distance voting does not preclude voters from participating in nonelectronic voting. Voters also have the right to withdraw their application and vote in person. ( Id . art. 3, § 6.)
Blockchain technologies are envisaged for use in the Moscow City Duma’s distance electronic voting. According to Dmitrii Vyatkin, a legislator who coauthored the Law, the voting is to take place via the mos.ru portal, where most Muscovites are registered. To access the system, voters also need to provide a unique code sent to them via text message. Technology will enable separate storage of voters’ personal data and election results, thus ensuring the secrecy of the vote. ( Electronic Voting in Moscow State Duma Elections Will Be Protected by Blockchain Technology , TASS (Feb. 26, 2019) (in Russian).)
The Russian Federation is not the first country in the region to introduce e-voting. Estonia also uses e-voting, which it instituted in 2005. ( I-voting , E-ESTONIA (last visited June 20, 2019).) However, the Estonian system differs from the Russian system. Under the Estonian system, voters can cast as many ballots as they want during the designated pre-voting period, with each new vote cancelling out the previous one. Thus, voters have the option of changing their votes before the final voting on election day. ( Id. ) In addition, voters in the Estonian system do not apply in person to the electoral commission to verify their identity and gain access to the e-voting system. ( Id .) The personal data of Estonian voters are stored on personal digital identification documents that allow voters to access e-government services, including voting. ( Id .) The Estonian e-voting system also enables voters to cast their vote from any computer or electronic device connected to the internet without the need to use specialized software or obtain a special code to access the portal.

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