Carousel voting (in Russian карусель (karusel, "carousel")) is a method of vote rigging in elections, used particularly in Russia and Georgia, and alluding to fairground carousels. Usually it involves "busloads of voters [being] driven around to cast ballots multiple times". The term "carousel" refers to the circular movement made by the voters, from one polling station to the next.
According to critics, the activity has been used in Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. Voters are recruited through offers of payment and then meet up on the day of the election and are instructed by a leader as to what to do. Journalist Sergei Smirnov reported in 2012 that he was offered 2,000 roubles ($70) to vote four times for Putin in the presidential election. He was told to photograph the ballot papers and then send the photographs to his group leader. Smirnov also reported meeting people who said that they had been paid 5,000 roubles ($170) to vote in the previous year's parliamentary elections.
Who orders the carousels is not completely established. The Just Russia's member of State Duma Ilya Ponomarev has said that the fraud in Russia's electoral system has been created due to the initiative of local officials who wish to please their superiors: "Vladimir Putin has a system in place in which provincial authorities are obliged to hold up the result of the ruling party. They know that if they don't attain the right result they could lose their jobs".
Carousel voting was one of several election fraud methods used by the Viktor Yanukovych campaign in the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine, which led to the mass protests known as the Orange Revolution, and to Ukraine's Constitutional Court decision to nullify election results and order a new election, which was won by Viktor Yushchenko.
- "Карусель" - главный способ подтасовки голосов на выборах в Госдуму - засняли на ВИДЕО, Newsru.com, in Russian, retrieved 5/3/2012
- Police break up anti-Putin protest in Moscow, dozens arrested Archived March 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo News, retrieved 5/3/2012
- Russia’s alleged ‘carousel’ voting ring, Iol News, retrieved 5/3/2012
- Kasparov, Garry (2015). Winter is Coming. London: Atlantic books. p. 212. ISBN 978-1610397193.
- Ukraine court annuls poll result, BBC News (3 December 2004)
Timeline: Battle for Ukraine, BBC News (23 January 2005)
- Stealing Ukraine: Vote by Vote, The Ukrainian Week (5 November 2012)