As expected, Vladimir Putin was reelected Sunday with a reported 76 percent of the vote, outpacing his nearest competitor by more than 60 points. The next morning, Ella Pamfilova, head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, claimed that the contest was one of Russia’s cleanest, with about half as many complaints of irregularities as in the 2012 presidential contest.
But irregularities were still numerous. As Russians filed in and out of polling stations Sunday, reports and videos of attacks on election monitors and blatant ballot stuffing littered social media feeds. The videos came from Moscow, the Far East, Chechnya and Dagestan — among other places. So blatant were some of these acts that the results from several of these stations were annulled.
After announcing that voting was annulled at five polling stations in three Russian regions during a news conference Monday, Pamfilova gave an update: “Information has been received during my speech that the voting results have been canceled at two polling stations in Kemerovo region.” She also said the commission was investigating similar incidents in Krasnodar.
One of the precincts that saw its results annulled was in Lyubertsy, in the Moscow region. Videos posted online show two election workers coordinating the casual stuffing of ballots into a box in the center of a polling station. After the video, taken by a CCTV camera, circulated online, police and election commission officials went to the polling station to investigate. The chairman of the local election commission and a member of the election commission were dismissed from their posts.
The Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) said Monday that Russia’s elections lacked transparency and competition, which prevented Russians from making a real choice in the election. This situation was abetted by what the OSCE said was a lack of media freedom and freedom of expression encouraging self-censorship.
Independent analysis suggests, however, that Pamfilova’s assertion that these elections were cleaner than 2012 are true. Russian physicist Sergei Shpilkin, who has used in-depth statistical analysis to highlight falsified votes in previous elections, found that vote falsification was likely at a record low. Or at least on par with falsifications seen in Putin’s 2004 election, with about 8 million falsified votes.
A previous version of this post erroneously named Elena Panfilova as the head of Russia's Central Election Commission. Panfilova is a Russian activist.