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Vladimir Churov: the times of foreign interventions in elections has sunk into Oblivion

Ambassador for special assignments of the Russian foreign Ministry, former CEC head Vladimir Churov said in an interview with RIA Novosti, as the epidemic of the coronavirus have influenced elections around the world, what's new she's introduced in the electoral processes. He also appreciated the new technologies of remote voting, shared his thoughts about whether the use of them, including voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, lead to fraud, and explained why Moscow's intervention in the US presidential election is impossible even technically.

— The main feature of the election campaigns this year is, of course, the circumstances connected with the epidemic of the coronavirus. This led, first, to a postponement of the vote. Although everything is not easy, because the vote can be transferred before the expiry of the mandate of the current government. For example, there is already a precedent, when the postponement of the vote in Bolivia has led to the fact that they have in February, expired on the mandate of the ruling authorities, including Deputy speaker of Parliament, who performs the duties of the President. The timing of the vote in Ethiopia, which was postponed, has also been found close to the expiration in October of the mandate of the current authorities. Not in all countries the Constitution provides for the possibility of extending the powers of the current government without a Declaration of martial law or state of emergency.

Secondly, the application of measures of sanitary-hygienic security at the polling stations. For many years we talked about the fact that polling stations should be observed measures all types of safety, including sanitary-hygienic. For example, in Russia, sanitary-hygienic treatment of the polling stations though not as often, but not necessarily carried out. Now apply extraordinary methods, including separate premises for voting of voters who came with fever and so on.

The third feature of election campaigns in the context of the epidemic of the coronavirus is more widespread means of remote voting, including postal voting, electronic voting. Due to this, increases the overall turnout. We've seen that the example of Serbia, Mongolia and Poland. Now, there are no final data on the turnout (At the election of the President in Poland. – Approx. ed.) but obviously, it is slightly higher than in previous elections. This is mainly a factor of increasing the number of participants remotely and in advance. A very important factor has been the postponement of campaign events, because in some countries because of the coronavirus mass actions is prohibited, the campaign enters into the virtual space, Internet, radio, TV, traditional media — thus increasing their value.

The most interesting are still the parliamentary elections in South Korea, which first voted 15 APR 2020 in the context of the epidemic of the coronavirus. To ensure active election rights were taken, many countries looked to the experience and began to apply elements or the overall experience of the vote in South Korea. Major campaign events were moved to the virtual space, the media and the Internet. Infected with coronavirus and located in isolation, it was recommended that voting by mail. On 10 and 11 April, in addition, was opened eight special quarantine polling stations for early voting. Because not all, especially older Koreans, possess skills of work in Internet, they were open two days a special quarantine polling stations. Under the isolation could come to the polling stations on the voting day after it was closed for ordinary visitors. Identified carriers of the virus and suspect his presence could come to the site accompanied by a social worker protective clothing and vote in a dedicated box, which is disinfected after each voter. In South Korea, as it relies in a democratic country, a cornerstone of the put rights of the voter. That is, any person infected with coronavirus it or not, is not deprived of the suffrage, therefore, many countries studied the experience of South Korea very carefully. I was looking for publications in different languages, and there's a lot of references to the experience of South Korea as countries that have received the first experience of voting (in a pandemic). In South Korea, only weakness, in my opinion, the moment is sorting and counting of ballots. In Seoul, all ballots are sorted in one huge room, specially adapted, but this is the most vulnerable place from the point of view of possibility of infection. Everything else, in my opinion, was organized above and beyond.

Elections are held every year on all continents. In Africa this year, elections were held in Burundi, Mali, Guinea, Benin. Elections in Ethiopia, which was postponed to August 29, and completed the mandate in October, and in Somalia, Ghana, Togo, presidential elections in the Central African Republic. Many elections are held in a difficult political environment, particularly in the countries bordering the southern Sahara, in Mali, for example. Where there are peacekeepers where there is a danger of extremism and terrorism.

In Latin America the greatest attention of the international community are focused on the organization of elections in Bolivia and Venezuela. In Bolivia the election of Parliament and the President scheduled for September 6, while the mandate of the powers that formally ended in February. In Latin America there is a feature Central election authorities, as a rule, built into the judicial system and often are formed of the judges of other high courts, so the period of oscillation in the power of the Supreme court usually takes on certain electoral functions. For example, in Venezuela, where the Parliament was divided and could not assemble a quorum for the appointment of a new composition election of the national Council, this function was transferred to the Supreme court, and he has now appointed a new Chairman — Indira Alfonso. This is a very experienced judge, she was Vice-President of the Supreme court and posted there for electoral practices. She is now preparing the vote in Venezuela, to be held in December.

You need to understand that the equipment of polling stations in Venezuela one of the most modern in the world. In the country there is a company Smartmatic, the headquarters of which is located in London. It makes the voting machines and voter registration, and program these devices before every election: brings in the names of the candidates and the parties. One of the most important aspects of elections under this system — control of the production line, on which the preparation of voting machines and voter registration. Another form of control is just not there.

Europe. There is now obtained some experience of voting in terms of coronavirus infection. Is Serbia, Poland and Iceland. While there is a tendency to increase turnout, primarily through remote voting. The second trend is that the candidate-the incumbent President, as in Poland, gaining a few more percentage of votes. For example, in Iceland the President, nominated for a second term, won with almost three times more than he scored four years ago. Then it was about 40%, and now is about 90%. Interestingly, as the Office for democratic institutions and human rights (OSCE) will assess the competitiveness of elections with only two candidates and one of them scored more than 90% of the votes. I don't see anything special, but the Office for democratic institutions and human rights usually makes the claim, especially the new, independent States.