Evaluation of the 2022 By-Elections of the Parliament of Georgia and the City Council of Batumi Municipality

Main Findings

On the 2nd of April by-elections was held in the majoritarian districts of Rustavi-Gardabani and Batumi. Based on the ISFED monitoring mission, the following findings can be presented:

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the barbarian war has had a significant impact on the pre-election environment. Therefore, the attention of political entities and a large part of the electorate was focused on the war;
  • The pre-election campaign did not, in fact, take place before the elections. The campaign has been relatively intense in Batumi. This was mainly caused by a competitive environment and the fact that being a majority in a representative body was dependent on this poll; The campaign was relatively intense in Batumi, with highly competitive elections, as the outcome would determine the majority in the municipal representative body;
  • The pre-elections campaign had been deteriorated by traditional challenges, including the use of administrative resources, and having blurred lines between the state and the ruling party. Such example is announcing a variety of social-economic programs which had a direct connection with the ruling party’s interest to succeed in the upcoming election;
  • In the pre-election period, the dubious increase of the voter list in Batumi # 79.04 majoritarian constituency was especially problematic. The total number of voters in this constituency increased by 497. At # 89 polling station on February 1, 2022 - 105 voters and on March 15 - 319 voters registered with unaddressed status at one of the actual address (Batumi, 188 Fridon Khalvashi Ave). In view of all the above, the increase in the number of voters could have been organized. It is noteworthy that in this constituency, in the 2021 elections, the opposition candidate won by a not-so-great advantage;
  • The main shortcomings of the voting process were related to the elections in Batumi, which included: cases of violation of the rules of voting and arrangement of the polling station, improper production of election documentation, violation of secrecy of vote, and attempts to influence voters;
  • Voting using electronic technology was mostly smooth, but shortcomings in theoperation of the verification and scanning apparatus were observed, most of which were eliminated soon after the short delays in the polling station openings and the voting processes. In one case, due to a malfunctioning of the verification apparatus, voter registration continued in the old manner. However, the lack of time and technology-related campaigns may have affected the credibility of the voting process by voters;
  • The space allocated to the precincts was sometimes not sufficient for the commission to function properly. Given the large number of commission members and other attendees, thorough observation of the precinct was problematic. Sometimes, moving inside the polling station was problematic and there was chaos and noise;
  • The situation on the outer perimeters of the polling stations was still a problem. ISFED observers reported cases of verbal confrontation and multiple mobilization and registration of voters through the same means of transportation. Voter mobilization and registration was mainly carried out by Georgian Dream coordinators and party observers;
  • A case of alleged voter bribery by an accredited observer under the name of Policy and Law Observer was revealed near Batumi # 79 polling station;
  • Batumi District Election Commission # 79 satisfied 2 out of 7 complaints submitted by ISFED. During the review, it was revealed that the commission tried to ignore orquestion the possibility of the observed violations by the observers and considered the explanation by the PEC members as credible evidence, i.e., those personally interested in the outcome of the case;
  • The DEC rejected most of the complaints, including significant violations such as violation of secrecy of vote and a call by the precinct chairperson for making a "correct" choice while voting. The review process gave the impression that the DEC was trying to avoid imposing appropriate liability on the violating PEC members. Such an approach not only leaves violations without evaluation, but also fails to prevent their recurrence in the future.

Evaluation of the 2022 By-Elections can be downloaded below

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