World

America Should Worry About Russian Election Fraud

| by Mark Jones
Members of the CEA protest Russia's fraudulent election in 2011.Members of the CEA protest Russia's fraudulent election in 2011.

Americans have reason to worry about instances of fraud that took place during the most recent Russian election.

Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party claimed the victory in the Sept. 18 election, according to NPR.  With 53 percent of the vote, the United Russian party dominated the three other political parties in contention.

With this victory, the United Russian party will receive 343 mandatees in the new State Duma, according to TASS.  This means that Putin’s party will have more than 76 percent of the seats in the Russian Congress.  The next highest represented party is the Communist Party, which will receive 42 mandatees.

The results, however, do not come without suspicion.

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In the past, Russia has experienced massive levels of voter fraud.  Specifically, the Duma and presidential elections of 2007, 2008, and 2011 were overwhelmingly falsified, according to Radio Free Europe’s Radio Library.

In March, Ella Pamfilova was appointed head of Russia’s election commission.  The liberal rights activist promised to ensure transparent and fraud-free elections, according to RFE/RL.

“We will change a lot, and radically, in the way the Central Election Commission operates. A lot and radically -- this is something I can promise you,” she said.

Despite Pamfilova’s efforts, evidence of fraud is apparent in the 2016 Duma elections.

A video from one polling location shows an election worker stuffing a stack of ballots into a box illegally, according to NPR.  All votes from this polling location were discounted, and further investigations are being made to search for similar activity at other polling locations.

Sergei Shpilkin, an independent analyst who uncovered much of the fraud in the 2011 Duma election, told RFE/RL that data suggests more instances of ballot stuffing in the 2016 election.

“By my estimate, the scope of the falsification in favor of United Russia in these elections amounted to approximately 12 million votes,” said Shpilkin.

The analyst looked at voter turnouts at polling stations across Europe. Overall, the 2016 election had historically low voter turnout, according to TASS.

Even so, Shpilkin found that certain polling locations reported extremely high voter turnouts ranging from 70 to 95 percent, according to RFE/RL.

Shpilkin told RFE/RL that these locations voted in favor of the United Russian Party, potentially suggesting that Putin supporters illegally stuffed ballots at these locations.

Though investigations are incomplete and fraud cannot be confirmed at this time, the United States should not ignore the possibility of this happening.

Russia is a global superpower.  Any degree of corruption in its government provides reason for the United States, another global superpower, to worry.

Furthermore, the United States’ own 2016 election has been steeped in Russia-related controversy.

When Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private emails were leaked, evidence suggested that Russian hackers were behind the release, according the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Sydney Morning Herald also recognizes speculations that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has close ties to Vladimir Putin and United Russia.  If the party is in fact behind a fraudulent election in its own country, voters need to consider its ties to one of the two major U.S. presidential candidates.

In the case of election fraud in Russia, the United States cannot mind its own business.  This is a matter of international security that could affect our 2016 presidential election.

United States officials should be concerned. 

Click here for the opposing view on this topic. 

Sources: RFE/RL, NPR, TASS, Sydney Morning Herald / Photo credit: cea +/Flickr

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