Putin Says Time Is on Russia's Side

Whatever else may happen when clocks are set ahead one hour on election day, at least one thing seems imminent: Acting President Vladimir Putin could become president an hour early.

Other than that, experts don't see much cause for excitement, save a little chaos at the polling stations.

On Sunday at 2 a.m., Russians across 11 time zones will set their clocks ahead, while 92,000 polling stations will be opening their doors at 8 a.m. - or is it 9 a.m.?

Alexander Yurin, of Moscow's Institute for Election Systems Development, expects things to be a bit hectic as polling-station staff stumble in late, while voters are left standing outside in the cold.

"People have to work late hours the previous day and some [employees] will make mistakes," Yurin said Friday. "They put the clock back instead of forward, or simply forget to change it."

Aside from potentially inconveniencing voters who show up at polls bright and early, he said there is nothing to worry about.

Potential problems with the computerized vote-counting system were anticipated long ago but it has been fully tested, Yurin said.

Some newspapers have focused not on the technological problems or possible chaos of such an inopportune time change, but on the psychological effects it could have on the way people vote.

Contributing voter choice largely to biorhythms, Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper said the time change is likely to change people's minds the night before the election.

Thus, a voter who had been all for Putin could wake up - an hour earlier than usual - on the wrong side of the bed and vote "against all," the paper said back on Feb. 9.

And, some, standing in Soviet-like queues waiting for the polls to open, may vote instead for Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov as they remember "the good old days."

But Putin, in a televised address Friday, said the transfer to daylight savings time is propitious. "The old time is over. Election day will mark the beginning of a new time," he said.