#8 - JRL 7040
Electronic voting system to be introduced in Russia.
January 29, 2003
The Central Electoral Commission of Russia is getting prepared to begin experiments with the introduction of the electronic voting system after the federal elections of 2003-2004, Chairman of the Central electoral Commission Alexander Veshnyakov said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass here on Wednesday. He is staying on a visit in Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
According to Veshnyakov, his meetings in Japan, including with senior officials of the ministry for administrative affairs which handles elections in this country, were interesting for him, because they revealed "a high level of the development of computer technologies in Japan" and the attempts to use them in elections. By way of experiment, they began to be introduced on a local level. Veshnyakov is positive that "the computer technologies are sure to play the key role in the future, but we still have a long way to go. " One should take into account not only the technical aspects of the problem, but also the psychological preparedness of the electors, he believes. In the opinion of Veshnyakov, the approaches of the Japanese to the use of electronic facilities resemble those of Russians, in a way. The difference is that the Russian Central Electoral Commission wishes to reduce the cost of the electronic facilities to the minimum and to use them not only during the elections. With this in view, the Electoral Commission suggested to the Russian Ministry of Education that school computers be used for that purpose by connecting special voting devices to them. According to Veshnyakov, experiments with electronic voting will begin after the 2004 elections. He reminded that Russia "joined a commission, created specially under the European Parliament, which works out procedures connected with a possible use of electronic voting.
Aside from other issues, Veshnyakov discussed in Tokyo some questions connected with the functioning of electoral systems in both countries, as well as problems that often emerge in that sphere. "Some elements in both countries are very much alike," he said. Both Russia and Japan are toughening the rules for limiting the financial resources to be spent on electoral campaigns, as well as punishment for the violation of those rules. According to his information, President Vladimir Putin will soon sign a decree on introducing "criminal responsibility for financial violations during the elections, which involve especially large sums of money. Our legislation did not have anything like that so far. "
Veshnyakov is going to meet here on Wednesday Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and to visit the state-owned NHK television company, where he will be told about characteristic features of the coverage of electoral campaigns in the Japanese mass media.