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    28 may, 2020

    Emerging from the pandemic: the return of elections

    Author: Maxim Grigoriev, no comments

    Currently, the leading countries of the world are lifting restrictions and emerging from the self-isolation regime. In Russia, thanks to the correct and timely decisions of the President, the Government and our effective healthcare system, in comparison to other leading countries of the world and to the surprise of many, the situation with the novel coronavirus has stabilized as of today and regions across the country are beginning a gradual, cautious return to normal life.

    Russia has specific criteria for the phased lifting of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. These are the spread coefficient of the coronavirus infection, free bed capacity for treating patients with COVID-19, and test coverage indicators. Relaxing rules on lockdown measures will be carried out only with positive changes in all three areas.

    Lockdown measures will be eased across the country when the spread coefficient decreases to 1 (one coronavirus patient infects no more than one person before isolation), the number of vacant hospital beds for patients increases to 50% of all available, and testing coverage will reach 70 per 100 thousand people.

    According to these criteria, more than half of Russia’s regions may begin phasing out restrictions. For example, Moscow according to these criteria corresponds to the second stage of lifting restrictions. At the same time, at the third stage, all stores and enterprises in the service sector will operate without restrictions. Public catering organizations, parks and other recreation areas will be opened, subject to social distancing. Let me also remind you that the Victory Parade will be held on June 24.

    Bearing this in mind, there are no grounds to deprive citizens of the right to democratic participation in government affairs such as voting. First and foremost, this concerns the vote on amendments to the Constitution. On the contrary, this is the right time to set a date for voting. There is still at least one month ahead as the vote will not happen before the end of June.

    I would like to highlight the example of South Korea, which held parliamentary elections in April during the coronavirus epidemic using measures to protect citizens’ health. It was conducted properly and efficiently. In late June, parliamentary elections will be held in Serbia, the second round of municipal elections will be held in France, and a presidential election will take place in Poland. Croatia plans on holding parliamentary elections on July 5.

    It is a good thing that the possibility of multi-day voting has been provided for as this will ensure the protection of citizens’ health and compliance with the necessary social distancing rules. It is especially important that there is a fundamental possibility of multi-day voting — up to seven days, which will achieve the mandatory social distancing.

    Currently, the Civic Chamber working group on public monitoring on voting is preparing recommendations on how to protect the health of citizens as much as possible. From our viewpoint, it makes sense to allow for the possibility of voting in outdoor locations, provide all members of election commissions and observers with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), ensure maximum contactless transmission and receipt of ballots during voting at home, and at the same time, follow all the necessary social distancing rules, etc.

    As soon as our recommendations are ready, we will forward them to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.

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