Georgia

Voting process and closing of polling stations

Photo: globaltimes.cn (VCG)

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED Election Day Observation Mission consists of around 1000 accredited and trained observers deployed to polling stations, 73 observers deployed at district electoral commissions and 78 mobile groups. ISFED also operates PVT and Incident Centers in the central office with 20 operators and 11 lawyers. The current elections are taking places during a global pandemic: COVID-19. ISFED staff and observers are following the safety guidelines as necessitated by COVID-19 while they conduct their observation duties.

The Election Day Mission is a continuation of ISFED’s observation of the pre-election period, which commenced on June 1 and included deploying 68 Long-Term Observers (LTOs), as well as the analysis of the social media environment.

ISFED’s Election Day observation of the Parliamentary Elections is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, where PVT observers are deployed to a statistically a sound, nationally representative sample of polling stations throughout the country. The PVT methodology enables ISFED to quickly detect violations, systematically evaluate the quality of the entire Election Day process, and verify the accuracy official results of the proportional race within a small margin of error.

In this statement, ISFED presents its assessment of the voting process and closing of polling stations. 

Key Findings

According to information obtained through the PVT methodology, ISFED concludes that the voting process took place mostly in compliance with the rules prescribed by the law in the majority of polling stations across Georgia. However, the secrecy of vote, inking, casting of lots, COVID-19 regulations and other procedural violations remained problematic. Facts pf physical violence and attacks against media representatives at some polling stations and in the vicinity was extremely problematic.

Mobilization near polling stations of party supporters and coordinators, who were recording the voters, too place on a massive scale; this is a continuation of the faulty practice of attempts to influence voters will. Violations of the secrecy of vote and the practice of recording voters yet again highlights the problematic nature of pre-election pressure/intimidation and its negative influence on the electoral process. 

There was a pattern of pressure, physical violence and intimidation against ISFED’s observers. The organization expresses its concern about the development and calls upon all election stakeholders to prevent this from happening.

ISFED observers filed 85 complaints at Precinct Election Commissions, 89 complaints at District Election Commissions and 36 entries in the record book.

Detailed Information from the PVT

  • At 6% of polling stations, voters cast their ballots using proper voter identification. This is a slight improvement in comparison with the corresponding figure from the 2016 Parliamentary elections (98.0%).
  • Inking was always properly checked at 6% of polling stations, which is an almost similar figure as in the 2016 elections (97%).
  • At 5% of polling stations, the ballot papers were properly validated with a signature and a seal. This figure represents a slight improvement compared to the 2016 elections (98.0%).
  • At 6% of polling stations, voters were properly inked, which is identical to the result of the 2016 elections (98.7%).
  • The secrecy of vote was always ensured at 6% of the polling stations, which is statistically not different from the figure of the 2016 elections (95%).
  • At 2% of polling stations, there were instances of physical violence/intimidation, which represents a slight worsening compared to the 2016 elections (1%).
  • At 7% of polling stations, voting rights were not restricted due to the COVID-19 regulations.
  • At 8% of polling stations, there were no voter queues at the time of closing of polling stations (20:00).

Violations

In the reporting period, ISFED observers have reported following violations:

Restriction of observer’s rights, threats, pressure and physical violence

  • At polling station #13 of Telavi election district (#17), ISFED observer is being pressured, with PEC chair restricting the right to take photos and trying to take away his/her cell phone. They were creating a hostile environment and insulting the observer throughout the day, primarily because the latter filed a complaint. When the observer was recording a video of voters outside the polling stations, he/she was pressured by the Georgian Dream representative.
  • At polling station #12 of Kvareli election district (#16), unknown individuals are threatening ISFED’s observer with physical violence.
  • At polling station #73 of Isani election district (#5), the Alliance of Patriots representative, Tengiz Kazarian verbally insulted ISFED observer and threatened with the following words: “I will tear the lists on your head.” The PEC chair failed to protect the observer’s right and to restore order.
  • At polling station #1 of Abasha election district (#63), after the observer filed a complaint, commission members started pressuring and verbally insulting him/her.
  • At polling station #37 of Lanchkhuti election district (#61), the Georgian Dream representative, Ketevan Chkhaidze was aggressive towards ISFED observer, was yelling and verbally insulting him/her, which eventually forced the observer to leave the polling station.
  • At polling station #12 of Bagdati election district (#52), PEC chair and secretary refused to register ISFED observer’s complaint, arguing that they did not agree with the essence of violation.
  • At polling station #21 of Zugdidi election district (#67), the PEC expelled UNM representative, on the grounds that she noticed a repeat voter and expressed her protest about it.
  • At polling station #20 of Zugdidi election district (#67), the ISFED observer is being threatened.

Physical Violence

  • At polling station #30 of Saburtalo election district (3), representatives of NewPost and one of the non-governmental organizations engaged in a physical confrontation. The conflict started inside the polling station, and the police took the two outside.
  • At polling station #45 of Gurjaani election district (12), representatives of the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement engaged in a physical confrontation. The PEC reported the incident to the police.

Control of voters will

  • At polling stations #21 and #87 of Zugdidi election district (#67), there is a concentration of Georgian Dream coordinators and representatives of the criminal underworld.

Photo recording

  • At polling station #84 of Batumi election district (#79), an observer representing a media organization NewPost was taking photos of voters.

Violation of the secrecy of vote

  • At polling station #9 of Ninotsminda election district (#41), a voter marked his/her choice at registrar’s table.
  • At polling station #18 of Dedoplistskaro election district (#14), a Georgian Dream representative is accompanying voters in the voting booth, which violates the secrecy of vote. Such cases occurred repeatedly.

Incorrect handing of ballots

  • At polling station #58 of Batumi election district (#79), registrars distributed two extra ballot papers to two voters.
  • At polling station #32 of Sagarejo election district (#11), the registrar gave two ballot papers (majoritarian and proportional) to a commission member who was in the special list and is registered in a different election district.
  • At polling station #12 of Bagdati election district (#52), there was a mismatch between the number of ballot papers handed out and the number of signatures. Namely, there was one remaining majoritarian ballot paper that was not handed out to a voter.

Agitation at polling stations

  • At polling station #38 of Marneuli election district (#22), representative of an organization “Amoirchie” was agitating. Namely, he/she was suggesting the voters whom to vote for.

Taking of envelopes in voting booths

  • At polling station #3 of Kvareli election district (#16), a voter took an envelope in the voting booth and exited with ballot papers placed in it.

Improper handling of documentation

  • At polling station #25 of Marneuli election district (#22), the demonstration protocol is not publicly displayed, and the protocol data is not filled in.

Violations related to voters list

  • At polling station #23 of Gori election district (#32), a voter who was registered in the special list voted at the main polling station. The registrar inked and registered the voter, without the latter presenting any documentation of completing the self-quarantine.
  • At polling station #43 of Vake election district (#2), a voter’s signature section in the voters list was already filled in. After the commission heard the explanation, the voter was allowed to cast her/his ballot, since it was the registrar who made a mistake when signing.

Violations of COVID-19 regulations

  • At polling station #25 of Martvili election district (#65), voters were allowed to enter the polling station without facemasks. The violation was resolved after observers’ calls.

Violations related to control sheets

  • At polling station #18 of Marneuli election district (#22), after the ballot boxes were opened, it turned out that the control sheet was not properly filled in. Namely, neither of the copies had a seal on it.
  • At polling station #64 of Tskaltubo election district (#58), an identical copy of the control sheet of the mobile box was not stored in the PEC, which is a gross violation of legislation and entails annulment of the mobile box results.
  • At polling station #14 of Vake election district (#2), the control sheet of the mobile box does not match with the control sheet of the main ballot box, as well as the control sheet of the PEC chair.

Violations related to mobile boxes

  • At polling station #49 of Telavi election district (#17), there were no signatures indicated in the mobile box voters list, while all ballot papers of persons in the list had been used.

Violations of vote tabulation procedures after opening of ballot boxes

  • At polling station #90 of Nadzaladevi election district (#9), along with those who were assigned the function of vote tabulation, other commission members and observers also took part in the vote counting process.

Violations related to casting of lots

  • At polling station #31 of Marneuli election district (#22), the PEC chair did not cast lots for selecting vote tabulators before opening of the ballot box. All commission members and party representatives engaged in the vote counting process.

Electricity blackouts at polling stations

  • At polling station #3 of Marneuli election district #22, the electricity went out. There are many people at the polling station. The patrol police and riot police are present in large numbers as well.
  • At polling stations #26 and #24 of Shuakhevi election district (#82), after the voting process was over, there was a power outage for a short period of time

 

Below you may watch a recording with English interpretation of ISFED's press briefing on the closing of polling stations and the conduct of election day

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