Late Sunday evening I walked down to Trubnaya Square in central Moscow. It was cordoned off, as it had been for two days; several police buses were parked nearby — down from dozens earlier in the day. Clumps of people crowded at two large white tents. The stage at one end of the square was lit but empty. 1980s music popular with the protest crowd continued to blare. A man, a woman and two teenagers sat in folding chairs behind the stage. They wore the facial expressions of people who had pulled off something huge: exhausted and beaming at the same time. They had indeed been part of something incredible: they had organized an honest and fair vote in Russia. Nearly 200,000 people had registered to choose their representatives from among 216 candidates for the Coordinating Council of the Opposition. The 45 people elected will be charged with devising an alternative system of representation for those who feel alienated by the Putin government.
The organizers worked to create a voting system that would be entirely transparent and falsification-proof. People registered to vote online, verifying their identity with scanned documents, photographs and their cellphone numbers. A voter ID number was then sent to their phones; that’s what they were to use to vote online. Lists of registered voters were also posted online, open for anyone to inspect. The voting was to last one weekend, and the minute the polls closed, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the results would be known: the electronic system would have tallied them automatically. Those who did not have access to the Internet could vote at any of several locations. The first 8,500 people voted between midnight and 8 a.m. on Saturday. But then the Web site of the opposition’s electoral committee stopped working because of a massive cyber attack. The organizers thought they had prepared well for this exigency, but the scale of the attack exceeded all their expectations. (This was not the only obstacle the elections faced: Several of the offline voting sites had to close because of police pressure, and three candidates were arrested within a couple of days of the election.)
Full Article: Russian Opposition Stages Alternative Election – NYTimes.com.