You may have noticed a few reports this week from election observers who said that the cleanliness of the voting procedures at their polling stations restored their faith in the election system, like this one from Alexey Kovalev. Does this mean that accusations of electoral violations have been hyped up, and that the opposition is paranoid? Not a bit. Moscow’s clean election stations were reason why Putin failed to win a majority of the vote there, says Leonid Bershidsky:
The official election results show that if the Russian capital had been a separate country, which in a way it is, Putin, with 47 percent of the vote, wouldn’t have won in the first round of voting. Instead, he would have faced off in a second round against billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who won 20 percent.
One reason for Putin’s poor showing in Moscow may have been that on election day, polling stations in the metropolis teemed with observers – citizens who wanted to make sure the vote count was fair. An unprecedented 650,000 Russians signed up to observe nationwide, and 11,000 of them worked at Moscow’s 3,380 stations. So Putin did not win outright precisely in the place where it was especially hard to distort the numbers.