The present study focuses on the transformation of the institute of observers at the elections in contemporary Russia. The authors use two interpretative models suggesting association of individual’s attitudes with their behavior: D. Glasford’s information — motivation — behavioral skills model and Th. Britt’s accountability triangle. The authors made depth interviews with 33 respondents who had participated as observers or members of election commissions on the Moscow Mayor Elections in 2013. The main focus was placed on the involvement, personal motivation, the availability of information relevant to the observers, the assessment of the outcome and their own role in elections; a significant attention was paid to the media preferences of respondents. The results led to a number of conclusions related to the prospects of using theoretical approaches chosen by the authors and the need to modify them.

Keywords: motivation, media preferences, media consumption, electoral processes, civil activism, in-depth interviews.