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Russia: To Vote, or Not To Vote?

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Russia, Elections, Governance, History, Human Rights, Politics, Protest

To vote – or not to vote? To “vote with your feet” – or to follow Mikhail Khodorkovsky's advice [1] (RUS, translated here [2]) and vote for one of the smaller parties that you don't “despise”? To boycott the election – or to spoil the ballot? To be proper and check one of the ballot's squares – or to get mischievous and write a swear word across the page?

These are the questions that quite a few Russian bloggers seem to be considering right now.

Half a month ago, LJ user tvoron saw a handmade poster at a bus stop in Moscow, which, in a rather crude language, urged voters to write a three-letter Russian obscenity on the ballots [3], in order to protest, among other things, the elimination of the “against all” option and the minimum voter turnout requirement.

Below is an exchange (RUS) between two of tvoron‘s readers:

odalizka:

You know, I totally agree with the authors of this creation. I myself am going to do something similar, if I go there at all. […]

jarud_bra0n:

Do you realize that the more ballots get spoiled, the more seats go to the [pro-Kremlin United Russia [4]]?

odalizka:

What's that, some new law that we've got? Interesting.

But even if it is so, what do you suggest? To go and vote for [Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko [5]]? Honestly, I'm not going to vote at all – let this farce – whose results are known in advance – is taking place without me. And the United Russia will get what it needs anyway.

jarud_bra0n:

Yes, this is the law. Whoever hasn't showed up, or spoiled the ballot, or cast a vote for a non-winning party – this person has given his/her vote to the leader as a gift (in our case, to the United Russia).

I suggest to vote for any other party that's likely to get past the [7-percent eligibility threshold [6]], preferably for the one that'll come in second or third. They are all bad. But the only way to protest is to vote for them.

I guess I'll vote for the vegetables – [the Communist Party of the Russian Federation]. Even though a few years ago I would've given myself a beating for this. […]

odalizka:

[…] Well, thank you, young man, but I wasn't reading [samizdat [7] copies] of [Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [8]] and [Joseph Brodsky [9]] throughout the night as a kid to vote for the Communists when I'm 37. No way.