The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the October 8, 2016 Parliamentary Elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED Observation Mission consists of approximately 1,000 accredited and trained observers, including nearly 850 short-term observers, 73 district observers and 70 mobile groups. Observers are deployed to precinct, district and central election commissions throughout the country.
ISFED’s observation of the parliamentary elections is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, which enables us to timely detect violations, evaluate the entire Election Day process and verify the accuracy of the official election results. The PVT uses statistics and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and ISFED has deployed 600 observers to a nationally representative sample of polling stations. As a result, PVTs provide the most accurate and timely information on the conduct of voting and counting and are the only methodology that can independently verify if the official results as announced by the electoral commission are accurate. These elections are the tenth elections where ISFED has used the PVT methodology to assess the Election Day process and to verify the official results.
Based on ISFED’s PVT methodology, we are able to conclude that in the vast majority of the polling station the voting process was conducted in the lawful manner. In certain precincts we observed some tension, however, except one case, it did not have material impact on the voting process.
Despite the fact that ISFED observers have identified a number of violations of electoral procedures, including a few significant violations, overall, we believe that these incidents could not have material impact on the voters to express their free will.
Detailed Information from the PVT
At 98% of polling stations in Georgia, voters cast their ballots using proper voter identification. At 2% of polling stations, some voters were not requested to present a proper identification document. This figure is almost identical to the 2014 local self-government elections (97,7%) and the 2012 parliamentary elections (97%).
Inking was always properly checked at 97% of polling stations. This figure is almost identical to the 2014 local self-government elections when inking was always checked at 97.3% of polling stations. Similarly, during the 2012 parliamentary elections, inking was checked at 97% of polling stations.
At 98% of polling stations, the ballot papers were properly validated with a signature and seal, which is not statistically significantly different from 99.7% in 2014 nor from 97% in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
At 98.7% of polling stations, voters were always properly inked, a slight improvement from 96% during the 2014 elections and 93% during the 2012 elections.
The secrecy of vote was always ensured at 95% of the polling stations. There is no statistically significant difference between this figure and the figures from 2014 and represents a slight decline compared to the same data from 2012 – 96.3% and 98%, respectively.
Acts of harassment and intimidation were reported only in 1% of polling stations. There is no statistically significant difference between this figure and the figures from 2014 elections when such incidents were reported in 1.3% of polling stations. However, this is an improvement compared to the figures from the 2012 parliamentary elections (4%).
Violations observed after 19:00
Limiting the rights of observers
• In the polling station #58 of the majoritarian district #70 (Batumi) the members of the Precinct Electoral Commission (PEC) were interfering with the observer freely fulfilling their responsibilities.
Inadequate handling of the electoral documentation
• At the polling station #28 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) the election commission member did not prevent a voter from incorrectly placing both of their ballots into two envelopes (instead of into one envelope);
• At the polling station #10 of the majoritarian district #43 (Khashuri) the registrar had handed out 3 times less ballot papers than the number of signatures on the voters list;
• At the polling station #49 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) serial numbers of the seals on the ballot boxes do not coincide with the numbers entered in the record book;
• At the polling station #27 of the majoritarian district #61 (Poti) the registrar did not sign their name in the voters list as required by law;
• At the polling station #1 of the majoritarian district #72 (Khelvachauri) the registrar did not request the voters to sign the voters list as required by law;
• At the polling station #1 of the majoritarian district #73 (Khulo) the registrar handed two ballot papers with majoritarian lists instead of one majoritarian and one proportional, as required by the law;
• At the polling station #13 of the majoritarian district #68 the registrar handed two ballot papers with majoritarian lists instead of one majoritarian and one proportional, as required by the law;
• At the polling station #58 of the majoritarian district #68 a voter casted the ballot paper into the ballot box without placing it in the envelope first;
• At the polling station #3 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) members of the Precinct Electoral Commission (PEC) who were responsible for the mobile ballot box handed out one extra ballot paper. The incident was discovered after the mobile box was returned to the precinct;
• At the polling station #37 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) a member of a Precinct Electoral Commission (PEC) voted at the polling station, even though they were not registered to vote in this majoritarian district;
• At the polling station #33 of the majoritarian district #39 (Kaspi) three registrars signed their names in the place designated for the signature of the voter;
• At the polling station #32 of the majoritarian district #34 (Dmanisi) ballot papers were casted into the mobile ballot box without envelopes;
• At the polling station #19 of the majoritarian district #60 (Lanchkhuti) demonstration protocol was filled in with a pencil. Incident not resolved despite the fact that ISFED observer highlighted it to the commission.
Improper inking of the voters
• At the polling station #26 of the majoritarian district #46 a voter was allowed to vote without proper marking, but the incident was resolved after ISFED observer highlighted it;
• At the polling station #21 of the majoritarian district #39 (Kaspi) and at the polling station #16 of the majoritarian district #62 voters were allowed to vote without proper marking, but the incident was resolved after ISFED observer highlighted it;
Irregularities related to the voters lists:
• At the polling station #73 of the majoritarian district #29 (Rustavi) a voter who has turned 18 on October 1, 2016 was not included in the voters list and, therefore, was not allowed to vote.
Moreover, ISFED observed few technical errors related to ballot papers. For example, the ballot papers were not numbered, the number of ballot papers in the pack exceeded the amount required by law or there were less than required by law.
At his time, ISFED observers have filed 81 complaints with Precinct Electoral Commissions (PECs) and 75 complaints with District Electoral Commissions (DECs).
Together with partner organizations, ISFED allows you to follow the election process online, by going to the elections web-portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations reported by three non-governmental organizations are immediately posted on the elections map. In addition, anyone can report violation of the electoral process by sending a text to a toll-free number 90039.
ISFED observers report information to the Data Analysis Center in Tbilisi via short message service, phone calls, and tablet PCs. The Data Analysis Center is comprised of 20 data operators, 20 lawyers, and the staff of the Central Office. ISFED has built a sophisticated PVT database that processes the observers’ texts. All observer data undergoes several quality control tests and, once those tests have been passed, the data is analyzed and incorporated into ISFED’s findings and conclusions.
ISFED Observation Mission is made possible with the generous support from the American people, by financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Election Day mission is also supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia, the European Union (EU) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views expressed in this statement belong solely to the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and may not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the European Union or NED.