At work this morning, all the expats received an e-mail instructing us to keep a low profile for the next several days until Sunday's election had passed and the outcome was clear (as if we didn't already know how it will go). Of course, we already keep a low-profile. While we are technically allowed to go into town and eat at restaurants and be out of the camp, it was recommended that everyone only go out for work-related business. It's not an unreasonable request, particularly since there's no scenario in which agitating about the election would result in anything positive. Interestingly enough, three days ago there was a surprise visa registration check at the camp after dinner on Tuesday. A couple immigration officers showed up around 20:00 and all the expats had to come back to the office and I suppose demonstrate that we were actually there (as opposed to somewhere else I assume) and had our passports with valid visas.
Getting back to the election, this recent eurasianet.org piece makes an interesting assertion about the election. It suggests that the president is using the election and his "opponents" as a way to gauge which ideas are supported (or not) and what his own level of popularity (or lack thereof) is like. When the voting is done, I suspect there will be two very critical tallies that are determined, though only one will be released for general consumption. The first is the officially released figure that the people here, that the world hears, and that if it's at 82% for the president, then someone "wins" a trip to Turkmenistan. The second is the actual count. The one that lacks all the fuzzing, adjustments, and rounding that will occur as votes are counted, added, collated, and rolled up from city to province to state to the capital. It's quite possible that this figure of the true vote cannot be known depending on how many separate officials make their various "corrections" along the way.
In continuing to chat-up people about the election, while many said they would vote, few seemed to believe in the true legitimacy of the process. I wonder if that will show up in the unofficial numbers.