Yes, a wonderful innovation!!! No, I had not heard of this before, although maybe somebody reading this had encountered it. So, where is this fabulous innovation being adopted? Why Mother Russia! So polls showed the United Russia Party that supports Vladimir Putin getting only 30% support for the Duma election that just happened. But while I have not seen specific numbers, it is my understanding that they have been reelected as not only the majority party in the Duma, but with a supermajority over 3/4 that allows them to mess with the Constitution as they please and pretty much do anything else with little fuss that their leader wants!
Of course, with one serious rival, Nemtsov, dead from being shot on a bridge in Moscow, and another, Navalny, in jail after an attempt to poison him to death, and the voting app his supporters were touting being cut off by Apple and Google at Putin’s request, well, this left a rather weak opposition, with the Yabloko Party a shadow of its never-large self, and with the Communist Party still Number Two, and apparently getting feistier than in the past as about the only serious possible source of opposition. But neither of them or any others got too far.
But, just to make sure, there have been widespread reports not only of ballot stuffing, the old-fashioned way to do these things, but now this miracle of online voting. So, at a minimum in one widely publicized contest in Moscow where the main opponent was a Communist, the on-site votes had him well ahead. But then the online votes came in, and, wow, they were overwhelmingly and in large numbers for the United Russia candidate. Apparently, this happened in many districts. Such a miracle!
A funny thing is that those complaining about this sort of look like Trumpists complaining about mail-in ballots in the US, which has led GOP-led legislatures to move to restrict such voting, as it is widely perceived that Dems use it (or did in 2020 anyway) more than GOPs, for various reasons. It was not always that way everywhere, with Florida, in particular, having a long tradition of numerous older GOP voters using the mail-in, leaving the GOPsters there a bit less sure about going after it. So the Putinistas can argue, well, this is just like the US.
Of course, there are two problems. One is that there is no obvious reason in any of these districts why online voters would have such different views than on-site ones, whereas we know of numerous reasons in the US why the mail-in voters were more likely to be Dems. The other is that there seems to be no record of or way to check up on any of these online voters. Who are they? How many times did they vote? Who was counting them.? All I can say is that this seems to be quite the innovation for a ruling party that wants to hold an election with at least a nominal opponent participating, while guaranteeing a solidly favorable outcome, even in the face of polls suggesting this was not so likely.