On May 13, EPDE's Georgian member the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) was monitoring the municipality Sakrebulo by-elections in Tsaishi local majoritarian electoral district of Zugdidi Electoral District no.67, through 3 precinct and 1 district electoral commission observers and 1 mobile group.
The main novelty introduced in the 13 May 2018 elections was piloting of machines for electronic counting of votes (e-counting). Notably results of e-counting were informational only and only results of counting by commission members had legal validity.
Further, to allow use of e-counting machines, the CEC adopted a new decree amending voting procedures provided in the Election Code of Georgia. More specifically, it abolished control sheet and registrar’s signature on a ballot, changed position of a stamp on a ballot and in place of transparent ballot boxes it introduced voting through an nontransparent box which is part of the e-counting machine.
ISFED believes that the existing legislation does not allow such changes, which calls into question the legitimacy of changing the voting procedures by the CEC decree and bypassing the Election Code. Amending by the CEC degree procedures provided in the Election Code sets a negative precedent and may create the risk of circumventing electoral legislation in the future.
On the Election Day, based on reports of ISFED observers, the process of opening of polling stations, voting and counting of votes was mostly peaceful and free from any major violations. PEC members were well-prepared to handle the new technology. However, some voters found it hard to adapt to the new procedures and certain shortcomings were found.
ISFED filed one complaint with the DEC regarding polling station no.74 of Tsaishi over misuse of voters’ personal information from the voters’ list by a registrar and entered a verbal warning into the precinct logbook concerning a mistake made by the same registrar.
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