MOSCOW (Reuters) – State election monitors will audit the results of online voting in Moscow that swung the outcome in several districts in favour of the ruling United Russia party in last week’s parliamentary election, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.
The election was the first major Russian vote where people could vote online in some locations instead of using paper ballots. About 2 million Muscovites voted online and some 1.7 million cast paper ballots. Opponents of United Russia, which backs President Vladimir Putin have said that prior to the announcement of the online voting results, several opposition candidates had been on course to win their districts.
After the online tallies were added, United Russia candidates swept the vote throughout the city of 13 million, prompting accusations of fraud from the opposition. Interfax quoted Alexei Venediktov, the head of a public election monitoring group in Moscow, as saying that its staffers would review online voting results and publish all the data. “This will be not a recount but an audit,” deputy head of the monitoring group, Maxim Bure, told the “Govorit Moskva” radio station.
The monitoring group reports to a public council whose members are appointed by the mayor and the city’s legislature, and some are elected by other members. Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny ran a tactical voting campaign during the election aimed at consolidating support for opposition candidates. Navalny’s allies were themselves barred from standing.
The U.S. State Department said the election conditions had not been conducive to free and fair proceedings. Britain and the European Union also criticised the process. Electoral authorities said they had voided any results at voting stations where there had been obvious irregularities and that the overall contest had been fair.
United Russia secured more than two-thirds of seats in the State Duma lower house of parliament, which will enable it to continue to push through laws without having to rely on other parties.