Voting Blogs: Russia scales up e-voting for key referendum – but misses security issues | Alex Hardy/openDemocracy
The delayed Russian referendum on constitutional reform goes ahead this week as the country emerges from many of the quarantine measures imposed over the past few months to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The referendum is being held to amend the Russian constitution, and was unveiled in January. The proposed changes most notably mean that President Putin can legally remain in power until 2036 by making him eligible to stand in a further two Presidential elections, should he wish to do so. Holding a referendum for these changes is not required by law. Such amendments can and have now been authorised by Russia’s regional legislative assemblies. However, the referendum is seen as a show of public legitimacy for these changes. As such, it is important for the authorities that the turnout is seen to be suitably high. Divided opposition movements have been in debate as to whether or not the vote should be boycotted. Meanwhile, the move towards online voting has been presented by the authorities as a move to protect public safety during the Covid-19 pandemic but it also represents an opportunity for the Kremlin to encourage higher voter turnout.