MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – A bill filed with the Russian parliament on Wednesday proposes returning the “none of the above” option to ballot papers in legislative, but not presidential, elections, as an outlet for popular political disaffection.
Denying people the option of voting against all candidates infringes on their right to “adequately express their will,” claims a note accompanying the draft, available on the State Duma’s website.
The first of three required readings will likely take place in December, said the head of the Duma’s constitutional committee, Vladimir Pligin.
The bill, penned by a group of senators, covers elections to municipal, regional and federal parliaments, but excludes presidential and gubernatorial elections.
“The country will be rendered impotent” if the “none of the above” option wins the presidential vote, bill co-author Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said in an editorial in Izvestia newspaper Wednesday. She did not mention gubernatorial elections.
The “against all” option was on ballot papers from 1991 to 2006, but was dropped on the Kremlin’s insistence after it began to gain in popularity.
However, this prompted the disaffected part of the electorate to skip elections altogether or vote for candidates they did not really support, the draft’s accompanying note said.
Seventy-eight percent of Russians supported the return of the “none of the above” option to ballot papers, according to a September poll by the independent Levada Center.