Moscow voting place

Russia’s voting system… broken?

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey


Let’s get to terms: Russia’s voting system is not broken. It is absent. 

Yeah, back in the 90s, and especially the 2000s, we could have talked about some… distortions of the system. 

Since 2011, when there was a parliamentary election for the State Duma, we can only talk about its total disposal. The fake election of 2011 sparked tens of thousands of people to protest in the streets of Moscow, at the Bolotnaya Square near the Kremlin, at the Prospect Sakharova Avenue, at Chistye Prudy Boulevard. I am not even mentioning social media that just went crazy. Most observers, retrospectively, agree that it was the moment the people’s protest against stealing the election and Putin’s return to power could have overthrown the corrupt regime, just like it happened during the Arab Spring. 

I was amid those events, participating in the widespread street protests. If only we could have known what would come next… The Crimea annexation, Boris Nemtsov’s murder just outside the Kremlin… Alexey Navalny’s infamous poisoning… and, top of the cake, Putin’s criminal war in Ukraine… We wouldn’t leave the place. 

Russian casting vote

But… history only works like this.

Now, the electoral system in Russia has nothing to do with fair elections as the world knows it. No opposition is running — absolutely, 100% controlled media, except for the internet. The government has shut down lots of media. Even online, hundreds of Russian and foreign web resources are only available via a VPN. 

in, 2011, I would never have imagined such a nightmare in the modern world. After all, we’ve all thought that Russia was a ‘normal’ country. Yes, we have some specialties and features because of our tough heritage and history, from the Golden Horde to Ivan the Terrible to Lenin and Stalin, but still… 

No, we are not. 

Now, we have Putin’s election in March 2024. Well, you may call it whatever you like, but it has nothing to do with an election. You know, life as we know it… Even if the minority votes for him, they will draw the necessary numbers, just like in the worst African dictatorships like Zimbabwe. I think, even worse, as for millions of people in Russia who share the democratic values, it just looks like a lifetime drama. 

Russia’s voting system is totally dysfunctional. Let’s wait another 100 years for matters to rectify. Period. 

Our voting system – broken?

Roger Bara

The House of Commons, mayoral elections in England, Police and Crime Commissioner elections and local councils in England and Wales use the first-past-the-post system.

Voters select their preferred candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins. 

Candidates for each of the U.K.’s 650 constituencies are chosen by political parties or stand as independents, though almost all successful candidates are members of a political party. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament. It doesn’t really work very well.

To become an MP, a candidate needs the largest number of votes in their constituency. This means every MP has a different level of local support. In many areas, the majority of people will not have voted for their MP.

UK Polling Station Sign

Even if millions of voters support the same party, if they are thinly spread out across the U.K., they may only get the largest number of votes in a couple of these contests, so only win a few MPs. Tens of thousands of voters supporting a different party, but who live near each other, could end up with more MPs. This means the number of MPs a party has in parliament rarely matches their popularity with the public.

Another words, it’s undemocratic. While Westminster’s voting system usually allows parties to form a government on their own, these governments may only have the support of 35 percent of the country, as shown by Labour’s victory in 2005, or 37 per cent, which was the state of affairs when the Tories won 10 years later.

Not good enough. As a young political activist, back in the 1970’s and fed up with an effectively two-party system, I clamoured for something different: proportional representation, which simply means parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them. Much, much fairer, though it still does have its flaws, like usually leading to coalition governments, which in turn causes legislative gridlock and consequent inability to carry out coherent policies.

Coherent policies did I just write? When the heck will my country produce one of those…… 

America’s voting system – broken?

Yes, yes, the Americans have a truly messed up election system. However, there are a couple of things you may wish to keep in mind before we go any further:

  1. As the first & oldest current democracy, they had no example to go by;
  2. The horse was the fastest form of communication.

Clearly, there would be no reports from polling stations hundreds of miles away for days. With this in mind, it made some sense to send a representative to vote at some official event. This representative would vote the will of the people who lived in the area he represented. From this prospective, the system these men devised seemed perfectly reasonable. 

Electoral College Map
H. Clinton won Vote | Trump won College

For years the system worked fine… but the US House of Representatives has been a partisan cesspool for generations. To quote “The election of 1824 is most famous for the ‘corrupt bargain,’ a deal in the House of Representatives that gave John Quincy Adams the presidency despite his winning fewer popular and electoral votes than Andrew Jackson. But 1824 was also significant for another reason: it was the first election in which the majority of states used a statewide winner-take-all voting method for choosing their presidential electors.”

Now let me explain; under this new system, the person with the most votes would get all the Electoral College votes for that state. This winner takes all system allowed the loser of the election to get in anyway. Let me show you. For simplicity, in our example all three States have ten registered voters and all States have ten Electoral College votes. Watch what happens: 

Electoral College Voting Example

Popular votes: Candidate A received 16 votes from voters while Candidate B only got 14. Candidate A won the election.

Electoral votes: Candidate A received 10 votes and Candidate B has 20. Candidate B won in a landslide and becomes President. 

The obvious question is: if this unfair, winner takes all system is so bad and not a part of the Constitution, why not just get rid of it? Yeah, that’s what we’re asking too. But (there’s always a but). The Republican Party cannot win a Presidential election without it. You read that right. Here’s the deal: Donald Trump & George W. Bush both lost the election but won the White House. In the last thirty years, no Republican has won the Popular Vote for President. As you can guess, one party is serious about keeping the current system. They are so passionate about keeping the scheme that some openly threaten violence if anything is done to correct the problem. I understand even Trump’s own people are not really trying to win the election; their best-case scenario is winning the Electoral College. The Popular Vote would just be a bonus.

Yes, you read that right: Trump is not trying to win the election.