4. Legislation: Law of Children’s Suffrage for the Russian Federation
Article 1. Regulations Governing Voting Rights of Minors.
1) Suffrage of minor citizens of the Russian Federation shall presuppose a division of voting rights into active and passive, into potential and actual, and, most important, into a right to the ballot granted to a child, and a right to vote (to use/cast the ballot) granted to a child's parent or legal guardian.
2) Minor citizens of the Russian Federation should have the active electoral right (the right to elect), but they should not have, by reason of incapacity, the passive electoral right (the right to be elected).
3) Minor citizens of the Russian Federation should have the electoral right to the ballot (the right to a child's election ballot), but they should not have, by reason of incapacity, the electoral right to vote (de facto use of a child's ballot at elections or referenda), which right shall be entrusted to parents and legal guardians.
4) Minor citizens of the Russian Federation should have, from birth, a potential electoral right, which makes every child the possessor of a potential vote.
5) The fact that a child is entered into voter registration records, and enjoys the right to a child's election ballot, shall ensure an actual electoral right of the child.
6) In the Russian Federation, only two children of each parent or guardian shall enjoy the actual electoral right; consequently, each parent or guardian may enter in to the voter registration records and receive, for the purpose of voting, no more than two children's election ballots.
(The note. The problem of determining the amount of children a parent or guardian may vote for is a very complex one and should be handled in conformity with the nation's established demographic policy. If this policy is aimed at limiting the population's size, then two parents (mother or father) may vote only for one child. If this policy is aimed at a minimal, nearly stable accretion of the population, then one parent may vote for one child. If the policy is aimed at a moderate population grow the, then one parent may vote for two children. If this policy is aimed at a maximal population growth, then a parent may vote for all of his/her children. In this case, the actual electoral right merges with the potential electoral right. The present Project implies a demographic policy of a moderate population growth in Russia. The relevant provision of the law is to be amended accordingly with transformations that may occur in Russia's demographic policy.)
7) At the birth of a first or second child in a family, this child shall be granted the actual electoral right of voting. The right of a child who reaches majority (age 18) shall pass automatically to another (third or fourth, etc.) child of the pare nt. (Legal grounds for succession may be elaborated further.)
8) Minor children who possess the actual electoral right shall be entered into voter registration records, become dependent voters, and have the right to a child's election ballot, which one of their parents or legal guardians can then use/cast.
9) A child shall have only one child's vote, and therefore, only one parent (mother or father) or one guardian may vote on the child's behalf.
10) If a minor child loses a parent or guardian who can exercise his/her voting right, the child shall be assigned a legal guardian to whom the exercise of the child's electoral right shall be entrusted.
11) A minor child who is self-supporting, and who maintains a separate residence from his or her parents or legal guardian, may petition the local election board for permission to cast his/her own child’s ballot in elections. If permission is granted, the election board is obligated to change the voter registration, accordingly, and to notify the parents or guardian of the minor child’s independent voter status.
12) If a parent has not attained the age of 1 8, his/her electoral right tied to his/her child (children) may be assigned to his/her parent or guardian, unless he/she has attained independent voter status.
13) Adult spouses (age 18 and older) who have minor children in common, and spouse-parents who have minor children from other unions, for which they have been assigned voting rights, shall decide independently for which child each spouse-parent shall vote. Spouse-parents shall have their written decisions certified by a public notary (or other appropriate public official) and submitted to the local election board in the district where the child (children) reside. Base d on these written requests from parents and guardians, local election boards shall enter the children into voter registration records next to the parent’s/guardian's registration, taking care to avoid duplicate registrations. Parent/guardian decisions may change, at any time, provided they are appropriately notarized and submitted.
14) How children's votes are distributed among parents (spouses, ex -spouses, and single parents) may be regulated not only by Federal law, but also by territorial laws that supplement Federal law.
15) Procedures for entering children’s names into voter registration records shall be determined by individual jurisdictions, and shall be flexible to allow for appropriate changes.
16) The exercise of children’s suffrage shall be mandatory for parents/guardians who are eligible.
Article 2. Rewards, Sanctions and Revocation of Parental Voting Rights
1) Incentives may be offered by local jurisdictions to parents/guardians for fulfilling the obligation of voting on their children's behalf.
2) Administrative sanctions, including but not limited to fines, shall be determined by local jurisdictions for parents/guardians in breach of their obligation to vote on behalf of their children.
3) Conviction of a criminal offence, including but not restricted to: child abuse or neglect, assault with a deadly weapon, alcoholism, and chronic drug addict ion, shall be legal grounds for revocation of the right of parents/guardians to vote on their children's behalf, in addition to depriving them of other parental rights in accordance with Federal Law.
4) Sanctions will be determined by Federal Law and administered by local jurisdictions for abuses of children’s suffrage, including but not limited to: bribery or attempted bribery of parents and guardians, inappropriate attempts to use/cast children’s ballots at polling places, and similarly motivated abuses committed by political parties, party blocs, and political candidates or persons acting on their behalf. These sanctions will be further specified by Federal Law.
Article 3. Definitions
For the purposes of this proposed legislation, definitions applied herein shall be understood as follows:
1) children (child) -- citizens (citizen) of the Russian Federation from birth until the age of 18 (the age of majority) are granted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation "the right to elect" (article 32.2) "from birth" (v2); citizenship stat us of children (child) is to be determined in compliance with the Federal Law of the Russian Federation of May 31, 2002 "On Citizenship of the Russian Federation" (article 12); the concept ‘children’ is identical to the concept of ‘minor citizens’;
2 ) parents (parent) -- citizens (citizen) of the Russian Federation having children (child), for the purpose of the proposed law, younger than age 18; whose parenthood is certified by appropriate documents: certificate of birth of the child, certificate of child adoption, or other documents recognized as official in the Russian Federation;
3) legal guardians (guardian) -- citizens (citizen) of the Russian Federation who have (has) legalized their guardianship of the children (child) in compliance with the laws and regulations of the Russian Federation;
4) domicile of the child (children) is the place of residence (the name of the entity within the Russian Federation: district, city, other settlement, street, house and apartment number or the number of the state-sponsored and public childcare institution) where the minor citizen(s) of the Russian Federation is (are) registered as residing by organizations in charge of registering citizens' places of sojourn or domiciles in the Russian Federation;
5) child's ballot – a child's ballot for voting in elections or referenda; the child's ballot is to be submitted to the child's designated parent or legal guardian by their local election board, upon the presentation of required documents, and in compliance with the regulations of this legislation;
6) children's (youth's) deputy is a person elected, with the votes (ballots) of children and their parents or legal guardians, affiliated with an appropriate electoral district, to a representative organ of state power or to a representative organ of local self-government, on the basis of universal suffrage, by secret vote;
7) independent voter -- a citizen of the Russian Federation who is age 18 or older and entered into a record of voters possessing the active electoral right, or who is younger than 18 and has successfully petitioned the election board for independent voter status;
8) dependent voter is a child younger than 18, who is a citizen of the Russian Federation and is entered into voter registration records and possesses the active and actual electoral right, to be exercised by the child's designated parent or guardian;
9) the active electoral right of the child (children) is the right enjoyed by minor citizen(s) of the Russian Federation to elect to organs of state power and organs of local self-government via their parent(s) or guardian(s);
10) the passive electoral right is the right of citizens of the Russian Federation age 18 and older to be elected to organs of state power and organs of local self-government;
11) the absence of the passive electoral right of child(ren) is denial, to minor citizens of the Russian Federation, the right to be elected to organs of state power and organs of local self- government, by reason of incapacity, the inability to hold elective offices in government;
12) the electoral right to the ballot (the right to use/cast election ballots) is the constitutional right enjoyed from birth, by citizens of the Russian Federation, to elect to organs of state power and organs of local self-government;
13) the electoral right to vote (the right to use/cast election ballots) is the constitutional right of citizens of the Russian Federation age 18 and older to elect to organs of state power and to organs of local self-government, either independently or on behalf of their child (children); adult citizens have
the right to vote only on their own behalf or on behalf of their mi nor children; they may not vote at elections or referenda on behalf of other persons;
14) the electoral right of children (child) is the constitutional right of minor citizen(s) of the Russian Federation to elect to organs of state power and organs of local self-government;
15) the electoral right of parents and guardians with respect to their children (child) is the right enjoyed by citizens age 18 and older to vote on behalf of their children (child);
16) the electoral right of adults is the constitutional right enjoyed by citizens of the Russian Federation age 18 and older to vote on their own behalf, that is, to be an independent voter;
17) universal suffrage -- the constitutional right of citizens of the Russian Federation, which includes the electoral right to the ballot and the electoral right to vote; universal suffrage in the Russian Federation applies to all citizens, including children, as well as all adults who are legally capable, and is secret;
18) the vote is the ballot (voting paper) of a citizen of the Russian Federation;
19) voting (at an election or referendum) is the use of the election ballot (ballots) by citizens of the Russian Federation age 18 and older;
20) the potential electoral right of children is the right to the ballot by all minor citizens of the Russian Federation;
21) the actual electoral right of children is the right to the ballot by those minor citizens of the Russian Federation whose parents and guardians are granted the right to vote on their (minor citizens') behalf; the grounds for and the scope of restrictions to be determined by this legislation;
22) a children's (youth's) candidate is a person who is nominated, in compliance with this legislation or an amendment to this legislation, as a candidate for elective office or a membership in an organ of state power or an organ of local self-government, or has be en registered by an appropriate election board as a candidate nominated by children' s parents and guardians, or by an association of parents and guardians;
23) a listing of children's (youth's) candidates is a listing of candidates who have been nominated by a political party, a party bloc or an association of parents and guardians, for an election to a legislative (representative) organ of state power, or to a representative or other elective organ of local self-government, and certified or registered by the board in charge of the election.
Article 4. Application
1. This legislation shall apply to children younger than age 18 and their parents or legal guardians who are citizens of the Russian Federation.
2. It stipulates terms and conditions under which minor children, as citizens of the Russian Federation, shall exercise their constitutional right to participate in elections and referenda conducted in compliance with the laws and Constitution of the Russian Federation, and with the laws and statutes of regional, state, and local governments within the Russian Federation.
3. It shall apply in all territories governed by the Russian Federation, and shall supercedeall age-specific restrictions of voting rights in laws, statutes, and administrative rulings, except as stated herein.
4. Federal Law and the laws of governing entities within the Russian Federation may provide additional terms and conditions of children’s suffrage, to supplement those stipulated by this legislation, provided such terms and conditions do not conflict with the intent of this legislation to remove the age-restriction.
5. Principal terms and conditions of the right to participate in elections and referenda granted to minor citizens of the Russian Federation by this legislation may be amended by introducing appropriate amendments to existing Federal law.
6. Federal law, constitution (statutes), laws of governments within the Russian Federation, other regulatory legal acts concerning elections and referenda, either adopted or being reviewed for adoption in the Russian Federation, shall not conflict with this proposed legislation. If federal law, constitution (statutes), laws of governments within the Russian Federation, other regulatory legal acts concerning elections and (or) referenda, conflict with this proposed legislation, provisions of this proposed legislation shall prevail.
7. This legislation on the voting rights of mi nor citizens of the Russian Federation shall supplement the Federal Law of June 12, 2002: "On essential guarantees of the right of citizens of the Russian Federation to vote in elections and referendums," and shall retain all of its provisions except where they conflict with the provisions of this proposal, which shall be further specified.
8. Adoption of this legislation on children’ s suffrage in the Russian Federation shall be proposed in a national referendum, in compliance with the Law of the Russian Federation on referenda.
Developed by Leo Semashko
March 26, 2004
Submitted to Member of Parliament of the Russian Federation, May, 2004