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13 Jan, 2014 10:56

Duma to reinstate ‘none of the above’ option in ballots

Duma to reinstate ‘none of the above’ option in ballots

The Committee for Constitutional Legislation of the Russian lower house has recommended MPs support a bill allowing voters to disapprove of all candidates in an election, triggering a re-run.

At the same time, the head of the committee, MP Vladimir Pligin (United Russia) told the press on Monday that while returning the “against all” vote to municipal and regional polls was possible, a similar move at the federal level required additional discussion.

The bill on returning the “against all” vote was drafted in October 2013 by a group of senators headed by the Upper House speaker Valentina Matviyenko. The sponsors of the initiative said that it would boost voter turnout and make the political system more democratic as citizens must have an opportunity to express any political will, including opposition to all the candidates.

The government agreed with the bill and legislative assemblies of six Russian federal regions have already voted for it. According to a public opinion poll conducted by the VTSIOM agency in 2013 43 percent of Russians supported the move, 21 percent opposed it and 32 percent said they were indifferent to such changes.

The ‘none of the above option’ was first introduced at elections in Russia in 2001. According to the law on elections, if the majority of voters supported it a new election had to be called and all candidates in the previous poll lost the right to run. However, the option was removed from ballots in 2006 for financial reasons – legislators decided that holding additional elections was too expensive.