Georgia

Preliminary statement and parallel vote tabulation

Information on the monitoring mission
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) monitored the October 2, 2021 Municipal elections in all electoral districts across Georgia (excluding the occupied territories).
ISFED’s election day observation mission consisted of around 1,000 accredited and trained observers deployed at polling stations, 73 observers deployed at district electoral commissions and 78 mobile groups. This year, ISFED observed the outside perimeter of polling stations with 121 observers. ISFED operated data and incident processing centers at its headquarters, with 20 operators and 21 lawyers, respectively.
ISFED’s observation of the Municipal elections was based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, where PVT observers were deployed to a statistically sound, nationally representative sample of polling stations throughout the country. PVT observers were also deployed to a representative sample of polling stations in Tbilisi. The outside monitoring effort employed an identical methodology. The PVT methodology enabled ISFED to quickly detect violations, systematically evaluate the quality of the entire voting process, and verify the accuracy of official results.
In this statement, ISFED presents its final assessment of the voting process and the PVT results.

Pre-Election Environment
The election day mission is a continuation of ISFED’s observation of the pre-election period, which commenced on June 1 and included deployment of 71 long-term observers (LTOs), as well as social media monitoring.
According to ISFED’s findings, the pre-election environment was somewhat competitive; all parties were able to run the election campaign, but the ruling party enjoyed a greater advantage due to the concentration of administrative resources on its side. The pre-election period was also characterized by cases of political pressure, threats, forced dismissals of civil servants or coercion to resign, and ineffective investigations of such instances by relevant state agencies. In addition, a number of large-scale social and economic initiatives were initiated, and public servants were actively involved in the campaign of the ruling party. The combination of these facts and trends indicates that the ruling party did not demonstrate sufficient political will to ensure a safe and democratic electoral environment ahead of the 2021 Municipal elections.

Key findings
According to ISFED’s election day observation, the organization concludes that the voting process across the country was, on the whole, conducted in a peaceful environment, in line with the legal requirements. However, certain trends negatively affected the electoral environment.
Inside polling stations, ISFED recorded violations of the secrecy of the ballot, tracking of voters by unauthorized persons (i.e. marking off voters’ names from a list), voting with improper voter identification documents, allowing a voter to cast a ballot without checking for indelible ink, and failure to follow inking procedures before voting. Additionally, ISFED observers reported cases of violations of procedural rules for handing out ballot papers by registrars. Multiple ISFED observers saw their rights violated throughout the day; this mainly manifested in creating a hostile environment for observers. Such violations occurred from the moment the polling stations opened and took place throughout election day, including during the vote counting process.
The environment outside of some polling stations was problematic, where cases of voter mobilization, tracking/noting of voters and alleged vote buying were observed. ISFED also observed the presence of party coordinators, representatives of certain organizations and unidentified individuals near the polling station premises, both within and beyond the 100 meter range. Cases of verbal harassment targeting ISFED observers were also reported. ISFED also observed cases of voters being transported to polling stations.
ISFED’s observers lodged 260 complaints with all levels of the electoral administration and registered 60 entries in the record books.

Detailed information from the PVT

According to the National PVT results:
● At 99.2% of polling stations, no unauthorized persons were present during the counting process;
● At 99.2% of polling stations, vote tabulation duties were assigned in compliance with procedures for casting of lots;
● At 99.6% of polling stations, the ballot counting process was transparent;
● At 98.8% of polling stations, the election materials were sealed in compliance with the law.

According to the Tbilisi PVT results:
● In Tbilisi, the Central Election Commission (CEC) deployed a new type of polling booth with one low and open panel. This type of polling booth was present at 96.6% of polling stations in Tbilisi while the other 3.4% used traditional high-panel polling booths.
● At 99.4% of polling stations, no unauthorized persons were present during the counting process;
● At 99.3% of polling stations, vote tabulation duties were assigned in compliance with procedures for casting of lots;
● At 99.1% of polling stations, the ballot counting process was transparent;
● At 98.8% of polling stations, the election materials were sealed in compliance with the law.


Observation of the outside perimeter of the PECs (PVT results)
ISFED gathered data from 120 precincts of the sample, where it has deployed observers of the outside perimeters of the precincts. According to the PVT results:
● Suspicious gathering of persons within the perimeter of 100 meters of the polling station was reported in 20.8% of polling stations, while in 10.8% of polling stations, suspicious gathering of persons were reported beyond the 100 meter range. Suspicious gatherings of persons took place both within and beyond the 100 perimeter at 8.3% of polling stations. At 59.2% of polling stations, there was no suspicious gathering of persons outside the PEC;
● ISFED observers reported representatives of a party, NGO or others tracking voters (i.e. putting marks next to voter names indicating which voters had cast their votes) within the 100-meter perimeter of the PEC at 11.7% of polling stations. In 5.8% of polling stations, voter tracking took place beyond the 100 meters from the polling stations, while in 3.3%, representatives of a party, NGO or others tracked voters both within and beyond the 100-meter perimeter. At 78.3% of polling stations, there were no persons tracking voters outside of the polling stations;
● Outside of 8.3% of polling stations, ISFED observers reported verbal confrontations/harassment. Pressure or threats outside of the PEC were reported at 8.3% of polling stations, and cases of possible vote buying were reported outside of 4.2% of polling stations. At 81.7% of polling stations, no cases of physical or verbal confrontations, pressure or threats, or possible bribery were reported outside the polling station.
● Police were present outside of 60% of polling stations;
● At 5.1% of polling stations there were campaign materials and/or graffiti within the 25-meter perimeter. At 94.9% of polling stations there were no campaign materials and/or campaign graffiti within the perimeter of 25 meters from the polling station.
● ISFED observers reported organized mobilization and/or transportation of voters to the polling station outside of 22.5% of polling stations. At 77.5% of polling stations, there was no organized mobilization and/or transportation of voters to polling stations.

National Proportional Results
At the national level, ISFED received PVT data from 95% of its observers. Below is the list of parties who garnered 1% or more in the national proportional race. The table includes maximum and minimum results for each of the electoral subjects (with a 99% confidence interval).

 

Party

Calculated Result

Margin of Error

Minimum Result

Maximum Result

#1 Third Power-Strategy Aghmashenebeli

1.4%

+/- 0.21%

1.2%

1.6%

#2 European Georgia - Movement for Liberty

1.8%

+/- 0.27%

1.5%

2.0%

#5 United National Movement

31.1%

+/- 1.07%

30.0%

32.2%

#8 Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi - Alliance of Patriots of Georgia

1.5%

+/- 0.12%

1.4%

1.6%

#9 Lelo

2.6%

+/- 0.20%

2.4%

2.8%

#10 Shalva Natelashvili - Georgian Labour Party

1.3%

+/- 0.10%

1.2%

1.5%

#25 Gakharia - For Georgia

7.7%

+/- 0.53%

7.2%

8.2%

#36 Girchi

1.0%

+/- 0.10%

0.9%

1.1%

#41 Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia

46.6%

+/- 1.18%

45.4%

47.8%

#45 Zurab Girchi Japaridze: Girchi - More Freedom

1.4%

+/- 0.17%

1.2%

1.6%

Others

3.7%

 

 

Tbilisi Proportional Results

In Tbilisi, ISFED received PVT data from 95% of its observers. Below is the list of parties who garnered 1% or more  in the proportional race in Tbilisi. The table includes maximum and minimum results for each of the electoral subjects (with a 99% confidence interval).

 

Party

Calculated Result

Margin of Error

Minimum Result

Maximum Result

#1 Third Power-Strategy Aghmashenebeli

1.0%

+/- 0.08%

0.9%

1.1%

#2 European Georgia - Movement for Liberty

1.1%

+/- 0.15%

1.0%

1.3%

#5 United National Movement

28.3%

+/- 0.89%

27.4%

29.1%

#7 Aleko Elisashvili - Citizens

2.5%

+/- 0.13%

2.3%

2.6%

#8 Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi - Alliance of Patriots of Georgia

1.7%

+/- 0.12%

1.5%

1.8%

#9 Lelo

3.7%

+/- 0.24%

3.4%

3.9%

#10 Shalva Natelashvili - Georgian Labour Party

1.3%

+/- 0.10%

1.2%

1.4%

#25 Gakharia - For Georgia

8.8%

+/- 0.39%

8.4%

9.2%

#32 Elene Khoshtaria - Droa

2.1%

+/- 0.21%

1.9%

2.3%

#36 Girchi

1.7%

+/- 0.13%

1.5%

1.8%

#41 Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia

39.7%

+/- 0.99%

38.7%

40.7%

#45 Zurab Girchi Japaridze: Girchi - More Freedom

3.4%

+/- 0.23%

3.1%

3.6%

#48 Ana Dolidze - for People

2.5%

+/- 0.17%

2.4%

2.7%

Others

2.2%

 

 

Tbilisi Mayoral Race Results

Candidate

Nominated By

Calculated Result

Margin of Error

Minimum Result

Maximum Result

Nikanor Melia

#5 United National Movement

34.0%

+/- 0.06%

33.2%

34.8%

Giorgi Lomia

#8 Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inashvili - Alliance of Patriots of Georgia

1.5%

+/- 0.11%

1.4%

1.6%

Ana Bibilashvili

#9 Lelo

2.5%

+/-0.16%

2.4%

2.7%

Giorgi Gakharia

#25 Gakharia - For Georgia

9.1%

+/- 0.40%

8.7%

9.5%

Kakha Kaladze

#41 Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia

45.2%

+/-0.74%

44.4%

45.9%

Ana Dolidze

#48 Ana Dolidze - for People

4.7%

+/- 0.41%

4.3%

5.1%

Others

3.1%

 

 

 

 

Violations in the voting process

During the vote counting process, ISFED observers have reported the  following violations:

 

Mismatches in the summary protocols
● At the polling station #14 of the electoral district 81 (Kobuleti), vote count and tabulation process revealed that the registrar commission member did not take the voter's signature. Thus, the ballot papers distributed by the registrar exceeded the number of voters’ signatures in the list by one. Subsequently, the registrar submitted the written explanation.
● At the polling station #9 of the electoral district 81 (Kobuleti), the number of majoritarian candidates’ ballot papers distributed by the registrar exceeded the number of signatures in the list. 9 members of the precinct election commission were registered in the precinct’s special list and were not the voters of the precinct’s majoritarian election district;
● At the polling station #28 of the electoral district #68 (Tsalenjikha), during the vote counting process it was revealed that there were two mayoral ballot papers in the same envelope. One of them was signed and stamped by one registrator , while another envelope was signed and stamped by another registrar;
● At the polling station #14 of the electoral district #22 (Mtskheta), despite the vote tabulators being chosen by casting of lots, other members of the commission and observers from observing organizations were participating in the counting of ballot papers. In addition, when surplus ballots were found in envelopes, they were mixed with others and considered valid. Moreover, ballots put in the box without envelopes were also considered valid. A number of incidents like these were noted during the vote counting. ISFED filed the request to annul these results.


Violation of video recording rule
● At the polling station #31 of the electoral district #6 (Samgori), a video recording was in progress during the vote counting but was interrupted at some point. It turned out that the video was turned off for an hour during the counting process but was turned back on after ISFED representative’s remark;
● At the polling station #49 of the electoral district #2 (Vake), members of the commission did not show the ballots against the camera while counting. Despite remarks, the PEC chairperson did not address the problem. In addition, there were people other than the vote tabulators involved in the counting;
● In addition, not just the counters but also others were involved in the counting process;
● At the polling station #4 of the electoral district #24 (Dmanisi), the video was turned off when the box was being opened and was turned on after the boxes were already open. In addition, the registrar’s stamps and the table lists of voters weren’t sealed before the commission members opened the boxes;
● At the polling station #8 of the electoral district # (Didube), the first person counting the votes was not showing the front side of the ballots to the camera and was not saying who the vote was cast for. Moreover, the video recording process was turned off for a while and turned back on later. The observer informed the PEC chairperson about the violations but no action was taken.


Failure to hand out copies of summary protocols/restricting the observer’s rights
● At the polling station #65 of the electoral district #9 (Nadzaladevi) the chairperson of the precinct commission did not allow a commission member to take a picture of the written explanation. Despite the observer’s remark, the chairperson of the commission did not address the problem;
● At the polling station #47 of the electoral district #81 (Kobuleti) a chairperson of the precinct election commission did not stamp or sign the copy of the summary protocols for an ISFED observer;
● At the polling station #33 of the electoral district #13 (Sighnaghi), during the counting process, the commission did not allow an observer to take a picture of the ballot put in the box without an envelope. In addition, the commission members and its chairperson were aggressive towards the observer;
● At the polling station #3 in the electoral district #82 (Shuakhevi), ISFED observer was given copies of the summary protocols without stamps or signatures and the observer was not able to write a complaint.


Annulment of the ballots
● At the polling station #19 of the electoral district #20 (Rustavi), during the counting process, 28 bulletins with no signature of the registrar were found. In most cases, the votes were in favor of the opposition;


Violations in sealing of electoral documentation
● At the polling station #54 at the electoral district #20 (Rustavi) the ballot boxes were opened and the counting process started before sealing the table lists, stamps and other materials;
● At the polling station #5 of the electoral district #84 Khulo district, during the counting process, the commission put the votes of a mayoral candidate in a separate envelope and sealed it, putting the amount of votes on the envelope. Later, the commission raised doubts about the number and opened the sealed envelope;
● At the polling station #37 of the electoral district #5 (Isani), after the electoral materials were sealed and the votes were counted, ISFED observer found a stack of unsealed and unused ballots under one of the tables;
● At the polling station #23 of the electoral district #24 Dmanisi, the materials sent from the precinct to the district did not have signatures of the registrars and PEC stamps. Minutes after ISFED’s complaint was registered, the commission brought sealed stamps to the district.


Other
● At the polling station #33 of the electoral district #13 (Sighnaghi), three ballots without an envelope were considered valid by the commission.

You can watch the presentation of the preliminary assessment and parallel vote tabulation below.

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