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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Can Learn From U.S. Vote

Even as the votes in the state of Florida are being recounted and the result of the U.S. presidential election remains up in the air, Russian politicians have been quick and joyful in pointing out the supposed flaws in the American system. No doubt some in the State Duma are regretting that they voted overwhelmingly last month not to send observers to monitor the election, especially since the proposal presciently focused attention on "Texas, California and other territories forcibly annexed to the United States," which would certainly include Florida.

The chairman of the Central Elections Commission, Alexander Veshnyakov, who was in the States observing the voting, drew this lesson: "Our presidential elections are conducted in a more democratic fashion and are more easily understood by voters."

President Vladimir Putin couldn’t resist joking during a visit to Rostov that, "if necessary, [Veshnyakov] can tell his American colleagues how best to act."

Such remarks could be taken in good fun if not for the sorry state of elections in Russia and the role that Veshnyakov, Putin and many others in power locally and nationally have played in perpetuating that state.

In September, The Moscow Times published compelling evidence of massive fraud in Putin’s March election victory. The only response to that investigation from Veshnyakov’s commission has been to remove the vote results in question from the CEC web site and to dismiss the story as an obvious manipulation. Likewise, there has been precious little response to the more than 2,000 complaints and 200 lawsuits that have been filed in connection with this vote.

Hrair Balian, head of the election section of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which observed the March election, has said that "the issue deserves a thorough investigation and a credible accounting." Putin and Veshnyakov, quick with jokes about the U.S. Electoral College, have been silent on this matter.

What lessons should Veshnyakov bring back from his trip to the States? He should note that he is seeing a system that has earned the confidence of the public in the past and therefore is able to weather this close election without creating a national crisis. He should notice that aggrieved citizens and political parties are getting a timely and thorough hearing in the courts. He should notice that the election itself was held when it was supposed to be held and not when it was more convenient for one or another of the candidates.

And when he returns to Russia, Veshnyakov should devote himself to earning the credibility that his commission will need to conduct the next election here. For the latest news on the Florida recount, check out The St. Augustine Record.