Judging by reports from electoral precincts, Russia’s Communist party received more votes than the Kremlin’s own United Russia in the party-list election yesterday. Also, the Kremlin’s candidates appear to have lost in most of the first past the post (FPP) districts in Moscow. This election is probably the first in twenty years that Putin’s party has actually lost – at least in the sense that another party has overtaken it in proportional voting.
However, the Kremlin has come up with “electronic voting” results that more than compensate for its defeat at the physical polling booths. Voting by internet – as practiced in Russia – has become the regime’s last-resort rigging tool, far more powerful than traditional ballot-box stuffing. It was used with some success in the Moscow city election in 2019, although the opposition had nonetheless managed to make significant gains.
Internet voting is truly a godsend for election riggers. and one that is still underestimated by Western Russia watchers. Largely thanks to it, the Kremlin’s puppet electoral commission will soon announce United Russia as the victor, even allowing it to keep two-thirds of the seats in the Duma. However, it will probably admit that the party’s share of the seats has diminished somewhat compared with the 2016 election.