Muscovites will be able to vote on the Internet up to 19 times in the elections to the State Duma It sounds strange – but there is a chance that this will help protect voting from abuse

On July 13, Chairman of the Moscow City Duma Commission on Information Technologies, Deputy Valery Golovchenko held a video conference on the main parameters of the Moscow system of remote electronic voting as an “ expert in the field of electronic voting ”. It will be used in September 2021 in the elections to the State Duma.

Remote Electronic Voting (DEG) will start and close at the same time as in-person voting. It will be possible to vote on the mos.ru websitefrom 8 am September 17 to 20 September 19… Unlike paper voting, electronic voting at this time will be around the clock, you can cast your vote even at night.

Registration for the DEG will open on 2 August – one and a half months before the first day of voting; It will close on 13 September. This is the last date when you can refuse to register. Those who later change their minds to vote via the Internet will no longer be able to vote at the polling station with a ballot, but they will be offered to vote on a computer installed directly in the premises of the election commission.THINGS WERE DIFFERENT IN 2020

Perhaps the most important innovation of the autumn voting in Moscow is that Internet voters will be able to re-vote several times during all three days… The developers of the Moscow DEG system announced such a possibility earlier; formally, this will not be called a re-voting, but a  deferred vote , despite the fact that the voter, apparently, will not only be able to vote later, but also change his choice. “The number of attempts is not limited,” the website of the Moscow mayor’s office claimed on July 12 (although this news was removed from the site on the same day). At the same time, it was also written there that the voter will be able to receive a new electronic ballot only three hours after receiving the previous one. That is, in 60 hours of voting, it will be possible to vote no more than 19 times – but only the last vote will be counted.

As Golovchenko himself explained to Meduza, the working group on remote electronic voting in Moscow is now really considering several options, including a scenario in which a voter can use the deferred voting function many times. “At the same time, the user will be able to change his opinion within a limited period and no more than once every few hours. Only the most recent vote will be counted, ”he said.

Such a measure should insure against failures and malfunctions of the DEG system, and also make it pointless to buy votes and protect voters from pressure from employers forcing them to vote in a certain way. These problems in connection with electronic voting were discussed back in 2019 when the Internet voting system was first used in elections to the Moscow City Duma in three constituencies.

“This function will allow each voter, even after pressing the ‘vote’ button for three hours – although you can put four or five – once again go back to your ballot and make your choice,” – said the head of the mayor’s office for the development of smart projects Artem Kostyrko at a  recent meeting with the chairman of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova on the DEG. Pamfilova herself, according to Kommersant , said that the CEC would not allow any “re-voting”, but she approved the testing of the “postponed voting”.

“The procedure for conducting electronic voting is approved by the CEC. At the moment it has not been approved, but the members of the working group do not expect any fundamental changes, ”Valery Golovyenchenko told Meduza.

The testing of remote electronic voting will take place in Moscow on July 29-30, Golovchenko told a video conference, and this was confirmed to Meduza by the head of the Moscow headquarters for monitoring the elections, editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow, Alexei Venediktov. According to him, the following scenario of a postponed vote will be proposed for testing: you can re-vote only on the same day when a person voted for the first time, and not earlier than three hours after the previous vote.

Online elections re-voting has been a standard opportunity in Estonia for many years. Less than 4% of Internet voters regularly exercise this right there . One of the voters in 2011 changed her choice more than 500 times: she was even contacted separately to make sure that no one else was voting on her behalf (in Estonia this can be done, because the anonymization of encrypted votes there occurs after everyone has voted. Internet Voters).

The Moscow City Hall, which is developing a remote voting system, has not yet published technical documentation on the implementation of deferred voting. It is not known how the e-ballot anonymization scheme will change – a procedure by which no one can compare the data of Internet voters and the ballots issued to them – and, accordingly, find out who voted and how. Previously, anonymization took place at the time of issuing an electronic ballot, but now it will be necessary to somehow correlate the voter and the ballots issued to him in order to count only the last choice in the end.

(C)MEDUZA 2021

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