RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(kremlin.ru – April 3, 2018)

Vladimir Putin met with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova.

Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova: Mr President, I would like to congratulate you on your convincing victory at the election and to present your certificate.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Ms Pamfilova. I would like to express gratitude to all your colleagues who worked during this election campaign. It was a big nationwide job of great significance for the country.

The popular opinion is that you all performed your job at the top technical and organisational level. Many people have said that it was the most transparent and honest election in our country’s history. This is certainly your personal achievement and the achievement of members of all election commissions across Russia.

Ella Pamfilova: Thank you very much.

We have completed our report, and many facts I will mention today are truly unprecedented. There is a special chapter comprising things that happened for the first time. It has the complete data.

It is true that the level of public trust is unprecedented. Even the polls held after the election put your rating at 88 percent. In other words, the overwhelming majority of our citizens accept the election results as reliable. It was the first time that we reported such a high figure, 88 percent.

We proposed a substantiated multi-level system of filters to preclude any violations. This has produced the desired effect. Therefore, I believe that openness at our elections was unprecedented, without par in the world. It comprised video monitoring, including at territorial election commissions, the use of the QR code, the Mobile Voter app, as well as the awareness-raising campaign.

Overall, we had more than 97,000 election commissions, over 97,000 voting stations, plus 401 polling stations in 145 countries around the world.

What achievements can we report? We have created highly transparent conditions for the public observers. Everything was open to their scrutiny. We never installed video monitoring systems at the territorial commissions before, and there is nothing like it anywhere in the world. We did this to ensure compliance with protocol. We also used QR codes: the computers for this were installed at nearly all commissions. It was really impressive.

We had over 1,500 international observers and nearly 500,000 national observers, a record figure, because it included observes from civic chambers.

Vladimir Putin: You call them CEC volunteers, don’t you?

Ella Pamfilova: Yes, we had those as well, all of them young people. This is very important, because we did a big job with our public organisations, including those that represent people with disabilities, who comprise over 12 million voters.

It was vital to provide volunteer assistance to these people, many of whom wanted to cast their ballots at the polling stations. Moreover, we have increased the number of stations accessible to people with disabilities fourfold.

Many people do not want to cast their ballots at home. They want to go to the election stations because elections are a festive occasion. We did our best to help them to do so.

This diagram is based on QR code results. We processed 99.99 percent of the ballots by 3 am. The remaining 0.01 percent concerned data from voting stations outside Russia. In other words, we processed the ballots in half the time it took us at the 2012 election. This is a major technical achievement.

The new Mobile Voter app helped attract many people who had never cast their ballots before. Russian society has become highly mobile, and many people no longer live where they are registered, or they may work elsewhere. This time they were able to vote.

About 1.6 million people obtained absentee ballots during the 2012 election. If we subtract this number from the 5.69 million voters who used this mechanism, it turns out that some four million people took advantage of this opportunity.

Vladimir Putin: Why is this better than absentee ballots?

Ella Pamfilova: It is better than absentee ballots because we abolished two legally binding provisions during the latest election. In the past, people could only vote at those polling stations where they were registered. For example, if a person is a registered resident of Magadan but works in Kaliningrad, he had to buy a ticket, go home, get an absentee ballot, and only after that, he could go back and vote.

Now this is no longer necessary. Any person could submit an application wherever he or she lives via the government services website, via integrated government services centres and territorial commissions 45 days before the election and choose the nearest voting station. All this data was entered into the Elections State Automatic System, and people could cast their ballots without any problems.

Actually, this considerably increased voter turnout. We cooperated very closely with the Federal Agency for Tourism. The people working or on holiday abroad found this very convenient. As you know, an unprecedented number of Russian citizens voted abroad, an all-time high.

Vladimir Putin: Most importantly, this made it possible to guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens and voters.

Ella Pamfilova: We tried to take into account all voter categories, including those who were running late, registering just a few days in advance – we had a special mechanism for them. All security levels were also high.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.