An optical scan voting system to read marked paper ballots and count the results was used during the single voting day on September 8 at Russia's regional elections. Its is often presented by Russian authorities is a guarantee of fair election. However, it did not prevent the elections from the irregularities. The independent election observation association Golos reports:
"In a number of instances, vote counting was artificially delayed. This, in particular pertains to municipal elections in St. Petersburg where the counting was delayed most likely to rewrite the protocols. At Elista, as of 2am on September 9, not a single protocol of precinct election commissions was entered into the GAS “Vybory” (State Automated System of the Russian Federation), while precinct election commission No 43, six hours after the polling station was closed",
In general, Golos reported 1,708 voting violations across Russia, including 564 cases in Moscow. In one possible example in the Moscow region, a candidate from the Yabloko party shot video that appeared to show a stack of prepared ballots at a polling station. But even more than counting votes irregularities, for Golos, "the most important factor that influenced voting results was artificial restriction of competition".
Thus, the Moscow City Election Commission (MCEC) refused to register all the independent opposition candidates. The claimed reason was the high percentage of rejected signatures. A significant part of the signatures was invalidated on the grounds of a so-called handwriting examination, which scientific validity and impartiality the candidates questioned.
The elections took place amid the climate of violence, which can hardly be called "laboratory of democracy". The decision to bar many liberals from running sparked a wave of protests in the Russian capital, with some 50,000 turning out at the August 10 opposition event.During the July 27 demonstration, some 1,300 people were arrested. By September 16, seven protesters were sentenced to prison terms from 2 to 5 years. Six from them did not recognize their fault but all six were found guilty of aggression against police forces (pushing, pulling a hand of them), as well as of the repeated participation in a non authorized rally which is a criminal offence under the Russian law. 6 more protesters are now being investigated, one is facing trial