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7 Aug, 2007 10:01

Dress rehearsal for elections in Moscow

A polling station has opened at the Central Electoral Commission Headquarters in Moscow on Tuesday, months before voting begins. It was all part of an exercise to test preparations for December's Parliamentary elections.

“This is an exercise. Technically it’s as close to reality as possible but, at the same time, as far away from political realities as could be. In this respect it’s a game. But as far as the rules and procedures are concerned – it’s a learning experience,” says Vladimir Churov, Head of the Central Electoral Commission.

Vladimir Churov himself was not able to cast the first vote as he had forgotten his passport. So he had to come back later and bring proper ID.

The Commission’s employees turned voters for a day. The members of the political parties were for real but for the sake of the exercise they swapped colours and adopted aliases.

The point of the exercise is to test how well preparations are going for the big day in December. The equipment is checked. Any possible glitches are worked through.

“It’s not the polling day itself that’s important – it’s the run-up to it. It’s positive that the Central Electoral Commission is so open to co-operation. This exercise is an opportunity to assess our potential as a civil society – how well we can spot problems and what we can do to fix them,” commented Ella Pamfilova, Head of the Human Rights Council

The only real difference between the rehearsal and polling-day was that after two hours the voting was over.