To get on the ballot today, a presidential candidate must collect 2 million signatures in January (even though half of the month is lost to the New Year’s holiday). Signatories must be geographically diverse: No more than 50,000 names can come from any one of the country's 83 regions. The signatories themselves must be precise: a single mistake such as a contraction in the name of a city—for example, “St. Petersburg” instead of “Saint Petersburg”—can render an entire sheet of signatures invalid. The names are then submitted to the Central Election Commission, which can pick a sample at random—and if it rejects more than 5 percent of the sample, the candidate is disqualified. At the same time, candidates are prohibited from submitting more than 5 percent extra of the required number of signatures—in other words, no more than 2.1 million signatures may be turned in to the Central Election Commission. Care is hardly sufficient, in any case. The commission has a list of 14 reasons it can cite to reject a signature. One of these is “expert opinion.” In other words, any candidate whom the Kremlin does not want on the ballot will not be on the ballot. So, if you are wondering which of the candidates opposing Putin on Sunday is a Kremlin stooge, rest assured: They all are.
Mar 2, 2012
Perfectly democratic, perfectly fair
From Slate article on the Russian elections: