Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: The Russian Parliament has voted to strike the "against all" option off the election ballot in apparent effort to reduce the risk of the next national election being rejected by increasingly disgruntled voters. The State Duma (lower House) of Parliament approved by a 352-85 vote on Friday a draft law that would remove the option of voting against all the candidates listed on election ballot papers. The option, which has been available to Russian voters since the collapse of the Communist system, has become popular recently as a protest vote against main political parties increasingly toeing the Government line. Existing law requires an election to be declared invalid if the "against all" option garners more votes than any candidate. The main pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, which had tabled the bill, argued that most democratic countries did not have the "against all" option.