Observers declare Russian polls free, fair

THE Zimbabwe Election Observer Mission to the 2024 Presidential Elections of the Russian Federation has declared the election free, fair and credible.

The delegation was led by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

The observer mission commended the people of the Russian Federation for exercising their right to vote in a peaceful environment. 

The Mission also commended the Central Elections Commission of the Russian Federation (CEC) for managing the election in an efficient and professional manner.

According to the Mission’s report, the Presidential Elections in the Russian Federation observed the basic tenets of democratic elections especially observance of Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gives people the power to decide on the leadership of the country through periodic elections that are guided by the principles of universal and equal suffrage. 

The Zimbabwean delegation also observed that the general atmosphere was very conducive for elections.

According to the Zimbabwe Election Observer Mission, the general atmosphere was very conducive for elections. The mood was relaxed and cheerful as people were exercising their right to vote. 

“This is a clear sign of a mature democracy in which elections are not perceived as a life and death activity,” reads the report.

The Zimbabwe delegation was in Russia last week to observe the Presidential Elections where incumbent President Vladimir Putin won the elections with a landslide.

Turning to the media, Justice Chigumba said the media played an important role by informing the electorate on electoral processes and activities. 

The mission was satisfied with the conduct of the local media in as far as reporting of elections was concerned.

“Apart from reports by some external media organisations, there is evidence of objective reporting of the activities by the local media that was observed. Our mission is impressed by the steps that the CEC took to ensure that all eligible voters are given an opportunity to exercise their right to vote. The mission takes note of the extended period of voting,” Justice Chigumba said.

 The atmosphere, she said, was conducive for elections. 

“The mood was relaxed and cheerful as people were exercising their right to vote. This is a clear sign of a mature democracy in which elections are not perceived as a life and death activity,” said Justice Chigumba.

She also applauded the CEC for the use of schools and other existing infrastructure which significantly reduced the cost of the election but more importantly made it easy to direct voters to the relevant polling stations. 

The 2024 Russian Presidential election was held over three days from March 15 to 17.

Most polling stations that the Observer Mission visited had high security with security personnel in the vicinity of the polling station and cameras in the polling stations.

 “Polling stations opened at 8am and closed at 8pm for the three days of the election. 

 “While the ballot paper did not have photos of the candidates, every polling station had a poster introducing the candidates. Additionally, every polling station had posters of regulations on the conduct of voters and observers. The posters are a summary of the electoral laws and regulations, and penalties associated with violation of the same,” Justice Chigumba said. 

While actual statistics on voter turnout would be announced by CEC in due course, she said the mission noted that electronic voting appears to be more popular than manual voting. 

In terms of population demographics, Justice Chigumba noted that the elderly appeared to prefer manual voting and most of the youths preferred online voting.

Herald

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