Постановление ЕСПЧ <Дело Давыдов и другие (Davydov and Others) против России> (жалоба N 75947/11) [англ.] Часть 3

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  1. The SR complaint about lawfulness of elections in electoral division no. 19

 

  1. In parallel to the above, the St Petersburg branch of SR challenged the results of elections to the LA in electoral division no. 19 in Kolpino (TEC no. 21). These results are challenged by applicants one to five (see paragraphs 18 – 34 above). The claimant stressed that information about eighteen electoral precincts (including the precincts challenged by the five applicants) had been recorded incorrectly, thus differently from the “original” protocols issued as a result of calculation of votes at the precinct commissions, in the presence of all the members of those commissions and observers. The complaints which had been subsequently lodged with the territorial commission could not serve as valid grounds for invalidating these results and ordering recounts, as no complaints had been lodged or recorded at the time of the calculation of the total number of votes in each of the precincts.
  2. On 22 March 2012 the Kolpino District Court dismissed the complaint (the arguments were similar to those employed later in its decision of 16 July 2012, described in paragraphs 130 – 139 above). In particular, the court was of the opinion that the copies of documents relied upon by the claimant party did not comply with the requirements of the relevant legislative provisions, and could not serve as valid grounds for a challenge to the official results. By contrast, the results of the recounts in the electoral precincts concerned, including those challenged by the applicants, had been drawn up in line with the normative requirements and did not raise any doubts as to their authenticity and lawfulness. No additional witnesses had been called by the District Court. The parties’ observations also indicate that on 30 May 2012 the St Petersburg City Court dismissed the party’s appeal and confirmed the judgment.

 

  1. The SR complaint about lawfulness of elections in two “closed” electoral precincts

 

  1. The St Petersburg branch of SR lodged a complaint about the lawfulness and results of elections to the LA in two “closed” electoral precincts – nos. 1852 and 1853 of electoral division no. 17 (see paragraph 40 above, complaint lodged by the ninth applicant). The claimant argued that the elections in the two precincts, which had been created on 30 November 2011 by a decision of TEC no. 3 in the territory of a large heavy machinery plant (OAO “Kirovsky zavod”), had been unlawful. They pointed out, inter alia, that the PECs had been formed in breach of the relevant legal requirements and comprised fewer members than prescribed under the law (three members each, instead of no fewer than seven, in view of the fact that there were over 1,000 voters in each precinct); that no members from the applicant party had been appointed; and that on election day no observers and no candidates had been allowed access to the polling stations by the security guards of the enterprise where the voting occurred.
  2. On 16 August 2012 the Kirovsky District Court of St Petersburg dismissed the complaint. The court found that the exact number of voters was unknown in advance but estimated at about 2,000, therefore establishing two three-member commissions was justified; that the claimant had failed to challenge the decisions of TEC no. 3 of 30 November 2011 setting up the two precincts; and that it was the party’s responsibility to arrange for invitations for its observers to the plant in advance, and not during the election weekend itself. The court refused to call any witnesses or to seek any additional information, such as the electoral roll or information about exclusion of voters from the roll at their regular places of residence. It rejected the need to check whether there were any observers at the PECs, since “the absence or presence of observers did not affect the results of the elections, and there are no grounds to believe that the voters were not able to express their true will”. The party appealed, but on 17 October 2012 the St Petersburg City Court dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgment of the District Court.

 

  1. The SR complaint about the results in electoral division no. 17

 

  1. The St Petersburg branch of SR lodged a complaint about the lawfulness and results of elections to the LA in several of the electoral precincts comprising electoral division no. 17 (see complaint by the ninth applicant, paragraph 39 above). They stressed that the results in ten precincts had been invalidated by TEC no. 3 without valid reasons being given, that the changes had led to a loss of votes for the claimant, and that the recount had been carried out with breaches of the relevant legislation.
  2. On 22 June 2012 the Kirovskiy District Court of St Petersburg dismissed the complaint. First, the District Court challenged the authenticity of the copies of the protocols relied upon by the claimant, on the following grounds: absence of reference to the running number of the copy of the return from which the copy had been made; the date, time and place it was drawn up; full record of the names of the PEC chairmen and members who had signed it; and inscriptions certifying the correctness of the copy. Second, in eight of the precincts the recount had been ordered by the TEC. The TEC submitted a copy of its report, which noted breaches in formalising these eight PEC reports, and the court agreed that the breaches were serious (unrecorded corrections; inconsistency between the sum of number of votes cast for each party and the total number of votes cast; difference between the figures noted numerically and spelled out, and so on). In such circumstances, the decisions to conduct a recount had been a lawful one; the final returns issued following the recounts had been correct and the results matched the figures announced by the City Electoral Commission. The court did not find it necessary to call any additional witnesses from the PECs or the TEC concerned, as suggested by the claimant.
  3. The St Petersburg City Court, upon appeal, confirmed the District Court decision on 27 August 2012.

 

  1. The SR complaint about the results of the elections in electoral division no. 15

 

  1. The St Petersburg branch of SR lodged a complaint about the lawfulness and results of elections to LA in several precincts in electoral division no. 15 (see complaint by the eleventh applicant, paragraphs 43 et seq. above). The Kirovskiy District Court dismissed the complaint on 15 May 2012. This decision was confirmed by the St Petersburg City Court on appeal on 23 July 2012.

 

  1. The SR complaint about the results in electoral division no. 33

 

  1. The St Petersburg branch of SR lodged a complaint about the lawfulness and results of elections to the LA in several precincts in electoral division no. 33 (see complaint by the tenth applicant, paragraphs 41 et seq. above). The Moskovskiy District Court dismissed the complaint on 22 May 2012. No appeal against that ruling was lodged.

 

  1. Information on recounts at electoral commissions

 

  1. Factual and statistical information submitted by the applicants

 

  1. The applicants presented copies of some of the “original” documents received by them and which had served as the basis for their complaints.
  2. They also submitted a graphic table bringing together information about the differences between the “original” and official results in electoral divisions nos. 15, 18, 17, 19, 22 and 33 of St Petersburg, precinct by precinct. Their document stated that the votes had been recounted in 100 electoral precincts in St Petersburg in the Duma elections and in eighty-six precincts in the LA elections. Following recounts, in the Duma elections ER results were higher in eighty-six precincts and lower in none; SR results were higher in three precincts and lower in seventy-eight; KPRF results were higher in six and lower in forty-eight; and Yabloko were higher in four and lower in forty-five. In the LA elections, ER results were higher in ninety-three precincts and lower in seven; SR results were higher in three precincts and lower in eighty-seven; KPRF results were higher in three precincts and lower in fifty-two; and Yabloko results were higher in one precinct and lower in seventy-nine.

 

  1. Factual and statistical information submitted by the Government

 

  1. The Government submitted a number of copies of official documents and composite tables containing information about the procedure and results of the recounts in some of the precincts contested by the applicants, as well as others. The relevant data can be summarised as follows.

(a) Copies of commissions’ decisions and information about their composition and presence of members

  1. The Government submitted copies of the documents ordering recounts in a number of precincts, following decisions taken by the relevant TECs. Some of them concern the precincts challenged by the applicants. For example, recounts in eleven of the precincts challenged by the tenth applicant (see paragraph 41 above) had occurred as a result of a decision by TEC no. 27 (electoral division no. 33). Similarly worded decisions, signed by the TEC chairman and secretary at an unspecified time on 5 December 2011 stated that there were “complaints lodged with the territorial electoral commission about breaches of legislation occurring in precinct electoral commission no. […] during the counting of votes, and other evidence providing objective reasons to doubt the correctness of the returns.” The identical decisions then stated that, in the circumstances, the alleged breaches could be overcome by conducting recounts. The precinct commissions concerned were directed to carry out the recounts “immediately” and to draw up new protocols marked “recount”. Identical decisions were also rendered by the relevant TECs in respect of electoral precincts nos. 637 (see paragraph 35 above), 557 and 597 (see paragraph 43 above). The decisions in respect of electoral precincts nos. 486 (see paragraph 39 above), 651 (see paragraph 32 above), 652 (see paragraph 29 above), 654 (see paragraph 33 above) were identical to the above, with the difference that the order was for the recounts to be conducted by the TEC itself.
  2. One of the protocols indicated the names and presence of members of TECs no. 3 (recounts for electoral precincts nos. 486 and 509), no. 4 (recounts for precincts nos. 725, 728, 731, 733, 742, and 743), no. 7 (recounts for precincts nos. 605 and 610), no. 21 (recounts for precincts nos. 638, 646, 651, 652, 654, 657, 662, 664, 665, 667, 668) and no. 27 (recounts for precincts nos. 1071, 1091, 1099, 1113 and, separately, for no. 1109). It follows from these documents that each TEC counted eight members from various political parties and NGOs, including, in each commission, a member from SR and a member from the KPRF. In the six protocols submitted, the members from SR and KPRF were present only in one commission each during the recounts, namely no. 21 for SR and no. 4 for KPRF; all the other members were present during the recounts, with one exception.
  3. The Government also submitted lists indicating the composition of dozens of PECs, as well as copies of the protocols drawn up by the PECs as a result of the original counts, or the recounts wherever they took place. Wherever there had been a recount it was noted by hand on the first page of the protocol. No copies of the initial protocols, i.e. those made prior to the recounts, were submitted. It appears from these documents that wherever recounts were conducted by PECs their members appointed by the SR and/or the KPRF were systematically absent. To give two examples, in electoral division no. 33, challenged by the tenth applicant, the Government submitted copies of sixteen protocols for the LA elections; of those, eleven were marked “recount”. In those marked “recount”, the list of signatures of the PEC members show that the members appointed by the SR and KPRF were not present in any of them, wherever these political parties had appointed representatives to these commissions. Similarly, in electoral division no. 19, challenged by applicants one to five, the Government submitted copies of nineteen precinct protocols, or, where the recount had taken place at the TEC, protocols from territorial commissions. These protocols indicated that recounts had been conducted by precinct commissions in four cases; in none of them were the members appointed by the SR and KPRF present during the recount.
  4. The Government also summarised all breaches of formal requirements in the “original” copies of protocols submitted by the applicants in respect of the precinct commissions challenged by them. Thus, the most common problems raised by the protocols relied upon by the applicants were identified as follows: the running number of the original from which the copy had been taken was not indicated, the address of the precinct commission was missing, the exact time the copy was drawn up was not indicated, the figures were not spelled out in writing, not all names and signatures of the members of the PECs were listed, the commission’s stamp was missing, the third page of the protocol was missing, or the copies were not certified with an inscription confirming their authenticity.

(b) Tables with information about procedure and results of recounts

  1. In their additional submissions of 22 May 2015, the Government presented a report on ninety-nine precincts initially concerned by this complaint. The report contained the following data: the serial numbers of the PECs and TECs, whether a recount had taken place, the grounds for any recount (recorded as “doubts about correctness and complaints” in all cases) and the body which had conducted the recount, the presence of members of the commission concerned during the recount, the exact timing of the recount, the total number of votes cast, and the number of votes gained and lost by a particular party (the last two fields were not filled in for all precincts). This table can be summarised as follows:
  2. TEC no. 3, division no. 17, covered thirty-two precincts (elections to the LA). The results in twelve precincts were challenged by Mr Truskanov, the ninth applicant. Of twelve precincts challenged, eight were subject to recounts, all of them ordered by TEC no. 3 on 5 December 2011. Recounts in two precincts were conducted by the TEC itself (nos. 486 and 509), and in six by the PECs concerned (nos. 489, 496, 497, 500, 501 and 508). As a result of the recounts, in eight precincts concerned where these figures were indicated, the table showed, among other things, a higher vote for ER in four precincts (in no. 496 increase by 343 votes out of 1,149 votes cast; in no. 500 by 200 votes out of 895 votes cast; in no. 501 by 300 votes out of 1,054 votes cast; and in no. 508 by 280 out of 1,025 votes cast). At the same time, ER’s vote went down in two precincts (in no. 489 by 40 votes out of 686 votes cast, and in no. 496 by 104 votes out of 675 cast). SR lost votes in two precincts (in no. 489 by 120 votes out of 686 votes cast, and in no. 496 by 130 votes out of 677 cast) and gained in one (no. 497, by 10 votes out of 1,149 cast).
  3. TEC no. 7, division no. 15, covered thirty-three precincts (elections to the LA). The results in twenty precincts were challenged by Mr Shestakov, the eleventh applicant. Of the twenty challenged, five were subject to recounts, all of them ordered by the TEC on 5 December 2011. Recounts in three precincts were conducted by the TEC and in two by PECs; no increase or decrease for particular parties was indicated in these recounts. The recount conducted by the TEC was carried out by its six members between 7.45 a.m. and 8.43 a.m.: they thus recounted 4,668 votes in three precincts in 58 minutes.
  4. TEC no. 21, division no. 18, covered thirty-two precincts (elections to the LA). The results in two of them (PECs nos. 623 and 637) were challenged by Mr Yakushenko and Mr Belyakov, the seventh and sixth applicants. A recount in PEC no. 637 was ordered by the TEC on 5 December 2011 and carried out by the PEC concerned at 7.10 p.m. that day; no increase or decrease for particular parties was indicated in that recount.
  5. TEC no. 21, division no. 19, covered thirty-four precincts (elections to the LA). The results in twenty-one of them were challenged by applicants one to five. Of the twenty-one challenged, fourteen were recounted: this was ordered by the TEC on 5 December 2011. The recount was conducted by the TEC in eleven of the fourteen cases; no increase or decrease for particular parties was indicated by the Government. The times the recounts were concluded by the TEC were indicated on 5 December 2011 as between 4.05 p.m. and 7.50 p.m. In particular, the recount in PEC no. 668 was concluded at 4.05 p.m. (907 votes); PEC no. 646 was concluded at 5.10 p.m. (1,002 votes); PEC no. 667 was concluded at 5.20 p.m. (874 votes); PECs no. 638 (1,351 votes) and 657 (1,122 votes) were concluded at 5.40 p.m.; and PECs nos. 652 (983 votes) and 654 (1,066 votes) were concluded at 7.50 p.m. Thus, the table indicates that on 5 December 2011 TEC no. 21 recounted 11,321 votes cast in eleven precincts in three hours and forty-five minutes.
  6. TEC no. 4, division no. 22, covered thirty-four precincts (elections to the LA). The results in twenty-two precincts were challenged by Mr Payalin, the eighth applicant (complaint withdrawn). Of twenty-two PECs challenged six were recounted; all the recounts were ordered by the TEC on 5 December 2011. In addition, in PEC no. 722 there was no formal recount, but a new result was drawn up “owing to a technical error”, at 8 p.m. on 6 December 2011 by eight of the twelve PEC members; it resulted in the reassignment of 482 votes from ER to the KPRF (out of 1,600 votes cast). Recounts were ordered and carried out by the TEC in six precincts (a total of 6,565 votes); these ballots were recounted by six members of the TEC in forty-five minutes, between 9.05 p.m. and 9.50 p.m. on 5 December 2011. In all six precincts ER gained between 202 (PEC no. 743, total number of votes cast 1,083) and 612 votes (PEC no. 725, total number of votes cast 1,269) in each precinct, the exact number of votes lost by the LDPR. The total number of votes gained by ER in these six precincts following recounts amounted to 2,422 votes (out of 6,565 votes cast).
  7. TEC no. 27, division no. 33, covered forty precincts (elections to the LA). The results in eighteen of them were challenged by Mrs Pushkareva, the tenth applicant. Of these eighteen, eleven were recounted: all the recounts were ordered by the TEC on 5 December 2011. Only one precinct was recounted at the TEC, at 9.15 a.m. on 5 December 2011 – no. 1109, where as a result ER gained 322 votes (the losses were incurred by SR (down by 122 votes), the KPRF (down 100) and Yabloko (down 100)). Other precincts were recounted by a majority of the members of the PECs concerned in the early hours of 5 December 2011; as a result, ER’s vote increased in five of the eight precincts where this was indicated in the table submitted by the Government. The largest gain was in PEC no. 1090, where the number of votes cast for ER increased by 900 out of 1,764 votes cast (no indication of corresponding losses by other parties). In three other precincts, ER lost some votes in two (in PEC no. 1098 down by 337 out of 616 votes cast; and in PEC no. 1127 down by 140 out of 898 votes cast). However, it is not indicated that any of these losses had led to corresponding increases for any other party, in contrast to the losses sustained, for example, in PEC no. 1109 by three parties.
  8. TEC no. 21, “Yuzhnaya” division, covered 337 precincts (elections to the State Duma). The results of four of them were challenged by Mrs Andronova, Mr Andronov, Mrs Nikolayeva and Mr Sizenov, applicants two to five. The table contains information about recounts in three precincts (nos. 651, 652 and 654) and does not indicate whether any parties lost or gained any votes as a result. The recount was ordered and carried out by the TEC on 5 December 2011; it lasted for two hours, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and covered 3,175 votes.
  9. Where the table indicated that there had been a recount, the number of members of the PECs and TECs present was always a majority (six out of eight for the TECs concerned; six, seven, eight or nine out of eleven or up to ten and eleven out of thirteen members in the PECs concerned), except for one PEC, no. 1127 (TEC no. 27, territory 33), where all eleven members were present at the recount concluded at 7 a.m. on 5 December 2011, and where, as the only result, ER had lost 140 votes out of 898 votes cast.
  10. In total, the table submitted by the Government contains information about recounts in forty-eight precincts (forty-five in the elections to the LA and three in the Duma elections), covering cumulatively over 51,000 votes cast (not all precincts mentioned in the Government table contained these data). In the twenty-two precincts where those data were at least partially indicated for the LA elections (covering over 24,000 votes), as a result of recounts, ER gained a total of 5,155 votes and lost a total of 621 votes; SR gained a total of ten votes and lost a total of 422 votes; KPRF gained none and lost 215 votes; Yabloko gained 38 votes and lost 311. In addition, in one precinct, (no. 722, see paragraph 163 above) 482 votes were reassigned from ER to the KPRF in a new protocol compiled by the relevant PEC.
  11. The second table, submitted by the Government on 22 May 2015, contains certain information about the results of recounts in over 100 precincts; however this information is not organised by divisions and TECs, and contains no reference to the present case. It does not contain information about the precincts challenged by the applicants. From this it follows that for many precincts a “second entry” was made on 11 December 2011 (the grounds for this “second entry” are not explained and it is unclear if there was a formal recount). As a result of this “second entry” many final figures for the parties participating in the elections had been changed as compared to the “first entry” made on 5 December 2011.

 

  1. Inquiry into the validity of documents submitted by the applicants

 

  1. On 2 July 2014 the Chairman of the CEC, Mr Churov, sought to check the authenticity of the “original” protocols relied upon by the applicants in the present case. On 22 July 2014 the Ministry of the Interior forensic expert centre concluded that the copies of the protocols relied upon by the tenth applicant (PECs nos. 1089 and 1104) had been certified by stamps which differed from the stamps used by those PECs to certify the copies submitted to the City Electoral Commission. For all the other protocols no such conclusion could be drawn. Furthermore, several copies presented by the applicants differed from the copies submitted by the CEC, meaning that those two sets of documents had not been simply reproduced by means of electronic reproduction. The expert report was unable to conclude that the documents in question had been tampered with, subjected to changes and modifications.
  2. In September 2014 the Chairman of the CEC wrote to the St Petersburg Department of the Investigative Committee. He argued that the applicants in the present case had submitted to the European Court documents which, they claimed, were authentic copies of the “original” election protocols from a number of precincts in St Petersburg. The letter pointed out that these documents raised doubts as to their authenticity, and asked the Investigative Committee to carry out an inquiry into the matter. On 25 September 2014 the Kirovskiy District Department of the Investigative Committee initiated an inquiry (проверка) into the matter. Subsequent documents indicate that the Department attempted to contact eleven applicants in this case and to collect information from them. It appears that only Mr Shestakov, the eleventh applicant, was questioned. He reiterated what he had already stated about the way he had obtained copies of the protocols from members of PECs and observers. On 27 October 2014 an investigator of the District Department ruled that a criminal investigation should not be opened, finding no evidence of crimes under Articles 141, 142 and 142.1 of the Criminal Code (see paragraph 191 below). At the same time, in so far as the question concerned copies of the “original” protocols, the investigator forwarded the relevant material to the St Petersburg Department of the Interior to decide if there had been falsification of official documents.
  3. On 14 November 2014 an investigator at the St Petersburg Department of the Interior decided that there was no need to open a criminal investigation into the alleged crime under Article 327 (falsification of official documents) in view of the expiry of the statutory limit (two years). The decision referred to the conclusions of the expert report of 22 July 2014 (see paragraph 169 above), but stated that any individuals who could have committed the act in respect of the two documents had not been identified.
  4. According to the Government’s additional memorandum of 22 May 2015, on 12 December 2014 the St Petersburg deputy prosecutor overturned and remitted the decision of 14 November 2014. He indicated that the copies of the protocols from precinct electoral commissions had been incorrectly classified as “official documents”. On 18 February 2015 the Kirovskiy District Department of the Investigative Committee ruled that no criminal investigation should be opened in respect of the acts by Mr Davydov and others in the absence of evidence of an offence under Articles 141, 142 and 142.1 of the Criminal Code.

 

  1. Relevant domestic law and practice

 

  1. General legislative framework governing the elections of December 2011 in St Petersburg

 

  1. The elections at the federal level were governed by Federal Law no. 51-FZ “on the Election of Deputies to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation” of 18 May 2005 (“the Duma Elections Act”).
  2. In addition, elections are governed by Federal Law no. 67-FZ on the basic principles of elections and referendums of 12 June 2002 (“the Basic Guarantees Act”).
  3. The elections at the city level were governed by Law no. 252-35 of St Petersburg “on the Election of Deputies to the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg” of 15 June 2005 (“the St Petersburg Elections Act”). All legal acts referred to below are cited as they stood at the relevant time.

 

  1. Regulation of specific questions

 

  1. Rights of observers and members of electoral commissions during federal elections

 

  1. Section 30(9) of the Basic Guarantees Act provided that observers had the right to familiarise themselves with the protocols of the electoral commissions and to obtain “certified copies of those protocols”.
  2. Section 29(23)(g) of the Basic Guarantees Act provided that members of electoral commissions (both voting members and observers) had the right to obtain certified copies of the documents drawn up by the electoral commissions. Although election protocols were not mentioned explicitly, that provision appeared to apply to those documents too.

 

  1. Formal requirements as regards protocols and other documents drawn up by electoral commissions; making of copies

 

  1. Sections 78 – 79 and of the Duma Elections Act and sections 52 – 53 of the St Petersburg Elections Act set out similar formal requirements as regards precinct electoral commission protocols. Such requirements included indication of the running number of the copy; the type and date of election; indication that it is an election protocol; the address of the precinct commission; the numerical results of each relevant field, in figures and words; date and time, indicating hours and minutes, when the document was drawn up; the names and signatures of the chairman, deputy chairman, secretary and other members of the commission; the stamp of the commission. If the protocol had more than one page, each page had to be validated by the names/signatures, contain the date and time when it was drawn up, and the precinct commission stamp.
  2. The protocol was to have two copies, with running numbers one and two. Immediately after the first copy has been drawn up, at the request of those entitled (members of the commissions, observers) certified copies could be issued by the electoral commission. The issue of these copies was to be noted in a special register, which was to be signed both by the person receiving the copy and by the member of the PEC issuing it (section 79(26) of the Duma Elections Act and section 53(23) of the St Petersburg Elections Act).
  3. The first copy of the protocol was to be signed by all members of the precinct commission. Once completed, the first copy was immediately transmitted to the corresponding TEC. All annexes, such as complaints received by the PEC, the commission’s response to such complaints, and separate opinions of its members, were attached to the first copy. The transfer of the first copy of the protocol to the TEC could be attended by any member of the precinct commission or any observer.
  4. The second copy of the protocol remained at the precinct commission until completion of its work (for five days after the official announcement of the election results) and was accessible to authorised persons such as members of electoral commissions, observers, candidates, and representatives of political parties. Certified copies of the annexes mentioned in the preceding paragraph were attached to it. A certified copy of the second copy was displayed for public view at the precinct commission.

 

  1. Proceedings at the Territorial Electoral Commissions

 

  1. Section 80 of the Duma Elections Act and section 54 of the St Petersburg Elections Act set up similar procedures for the verification of election results by TECs. Thus, the members of the TEC received the results from the precinct commissions and, once compliance of the protocols with the formal requirements and the presence of the annexes had been determined, they entered the data in order to compile the results for the given electoral territory. The transfer of protocols from PECs, tabulation of results and drawing up of the TEC protocol with the overall results were to take place in the same room, in full view of the TEC members and observers.
  2. The same room should have been equipped with a large board on which the results from each precinct and changes to the overall result for the territory should have been entered as soon as the protocols from the precincts arrived, indicating the time those entries had been made. The data was also to be entered into the State-run electronic database “Vybory”.
  3. Once all data from the precincts have been compiled, the TEC drew up its own protocol, also in two running copies, containing the names and signatures of all members and the exact date and time of the signing.

 

  1. Recounts

 

  1. Section 69(9) of the Basic Guarantees Act read as follows:

“Where the tables… of results contain errors or discrepancies, [or] where there are doubts as to whether the protocols… received from the lower commission have been drawn up correctly, the higher commission can order a recount [by the lower commission…] or conduct a recount itself… The recount shall be conducted in the presence of a voting member (or members) of the higher commission by the commission which drew up and approved the protocol [that is, the lower commission] or by the commission which ordered the recount [that is, the higher commission] with mandatory notification of the non-voting members of the commission, observers, candidates and other people… who have the right to be present at the recount.”

  1. Sections 79(31) and 80(15 – 17) of the Duma Elections Act stipulated the method for recounts in the precinct and territorial electoral commissions. Thus, if the changes to the protocol concerned fields other than the counting of votes for the candidates or parties, the precinct commission was obliged to inform all those who had been present at the initial count, issue a protocol marked “recount” and submit it to the territorial commission, together with the original protocol. The TECs were entitled to carry out recounts of their own results and to issue “recount” protocols under similar conditions. In addition, the territorial commissions could, upon discovering errors or discrepancies, or in case of doubt as to the correctness of the precinct commissions’ results, order recounts or conduct recounts themselves, on the same conditions as in the preceding paragraph. Such recounts could be ordered either before or after formal approval of the PEC protocols.
  2. Similar provisions were contained in the St Petersburg Act (sections 53 (27) and 54 (15 – 16)).

 

  1. Appeals procedure

 

  1. Section 75 of the Basic Guarantees Act provided that decisions of various electoral commissions and of their members which infringed electoral rights were subject to appeal to courts. Complaints against the CEC were to be lodged with the Supreme Court; complaints against decisions and acts of regional electoral commissions concerning elections to the federal legislature were to be lodged with the regional courts; and complaints against actions of all other electoral commissions were to be lodged with the district courts. When examining a complaint against an electoral commission’s decision, the relevant court also took into account the decisions of the lower electoral commissions if the violations alleged could have influenced the results of the elections in question (section 75 (4)). The courts’ decisions were binding and could, inter alia, invalidate the commissions’ decisions about the results and outcome of the elections. In April 2014 this section of the Basic Guarantees Act was amended so as to expressly mention the right of the voters to challenge the results in the precincts where they had voted, taking into account the ruling of the Constitutional Court (see paragraphs 80 – 88 above).
  2. Complaints could also be made to the higher electoral commissions, which were obliged to consider them and to take decisions; the applicants were to be informed of the decision. If a complaint was brought simultaneously to the higher commission and to a court, the consideration at the commission was adjourned until the end of the court proceedings (section 75 (9)). The right to lodge complaints was granted to voters, candidates and their representatives, electoral groups, public bodies, observers and the commissions themselves. The commission considering the complaint should invite the complainant and a representative of the commission concerned (section 75 (10 and 12)). If the commission identified breaches of law during the voting or during the drawing up of the results, it could declare the results void and, if necessary, call for a recount. The commission could act upon complaints until the results of the elections had been officially approved; following which the results could only be challenged before a competent court (section 77).
  3. Similar provisions were contained in the St Petersburg Act (sections 61 and 63).

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