The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the October 21, 2017 local self-government elections in all electoral districts across Georgia. ISFED Observation Mission consists of 1050 observers deployed at precinct, 73 observers at district electoral commissions and 80 mobile groups. Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) Data Analysis and Incident Centers are working in the central office staffed with 18 operators and 13 lawyers. ISFED’s observation of the local self-government elections is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, which enables us to timely detect violations, systematically evaluate the entire Election Day process and verify the accuracy of the official election results.
For the October 21, 2017 local self-government elections ISFED has deployed PVT observers to:
• A nationally representative, random sample of 300 polling stations throughout Georgia to assess the quality of the election day process;
• A representative, random sample of 350 polling stations in Tbilisi to evaluate the quality of the process and to verify results for the Mayoral and City Council races;
• All polling stations in self-governing cities of Kutaisi, Rustavi, Batumi and Poti and municipalities of Akhaltsikhe and Marneuli to evaluate the quality of the process and to verify results for the Mayoral and City Council races.
In this statement, ISFED presents information about opening of polling stations and commencement of voting.
According to ISFED observers, majority of cases of significant violations were observed in #22 Marneuli election district. Polling stations #31, #18, #52, #74, #42 (Marneuli) tend to be the most problematic. ISFED observation detected irregularities at polling stations in Rustavi as well.
ISFED observers identified an important trend of copying personal information from the list of voters. This practice is the continuation of negative practice of past years such as using voters' identity in order to pressure them and influence their vote. ISFED calls upon all political parties to abandon such practices and also urges the Central Election Commission to issue precise instructions to the PEC in order to eliminate any attempt of control and interference with voter’s ability to exercise their will and to protect the use of the voters’ personal information.
At the moment of the statement, ISFED has filed 42 complaints at the Precinct Electoral Commissions (PECs) and 47 complaints at the District Electoral Commissions (DECs). In 33 cases, the incident was not of sufficient magnitude to file a formal complaint, but ISFED observers did make entries in the record books of the PECs.
Voter Turnout by 12:00 (PVT Results)
According to ISFED, voter turnout by 12:00 is 16.3%, (with a margin of error of +/-0.3%), which is similar to the 2014 local elections when voter turnout by 12:00 was 16.6%.
ISFED has found the following voter turnout in self-governing cities as of 12:00:
Since turnout is announced at specified times of the day, ISFED calculates the average time it takes for a polling station to process a voter. According to the information recorded by the PECs, in 92.3% of polling stations, the commission processed, on average, one voter per minute, while in 7.7% of polling stations the commission processed 1-2 voters per minute.
- Tbilisi - 14.7%, (with a margin of error of +/-0.2%), which is slightly higher compared to the 2014 local elections when voter turnout was 12.7%.
- Kutaisi - 13.6%
- Batumi - 12.5%
- Rustavi - 14.8%
- Poti - 16.9%
- Marneuli - 15.4%
- Akhaltsikhe - 18.2%
As of now, ISFED observers have reported following violations:
Violation of the secrecy of the vote
• At the polling station #42 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), a voter marked their ballot paper outside of the voting booth.
• At the polling station #31 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), a person with observer’s badge placed ballot papers in the ballot box instead of few voters. He tends to accompany voters to the voting booth and according to his explanation, “helps them to cast a vote.” His identity remains unknown as he refuses to reveal his name.
Violation of inking procedure
• Six voters were allowed to vote without being properly inked at 4 polling stations. Specifically, at the polling station #21, of the election district #70 (Poti) (1 case), at the polling station #27 of the election district #7 (Chughureti) (1 case), at the polling station #18 (3 cases) and #52 (1 case) of the election district #22 (Marneuli).
• Voters were allowed to enter the polling station without being checked for inking in two cases. Specifically, at the polling station #31 of the election district #22 (Marneuli) and at the polling station #84 of the election district #20 (Rustavi).
• At the polling station #25 of the election district #79 (Batumi), the voter was inked prior to having their named checked on the voter list and the voter was actually registered at a different polling station. This resulted in restriction of individual’s voting right.
Limiting the rights of observers/pressure upon observers
• At the polling station #14 of the election district #84 (Khulo) member of commission, Akhmed Iakobadze requested from the ISFED observer through telephone communication to be silent at the polling station. According to him, the whole village supports candidate from the United National Movement, Mikheil Shavadze.
• At the polling station #14 of the election district #1 (Mtatsminda), observer was allowed to make an entry in the record book only after filing a complaint.
Violation of voting procedure
• At the polling station #31 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), functions were swapped arbitrary between the commission members, without indicating it in the record book.
• At the polling station #28 of the election district #3 (Saburtalo), the commission member is not properly managing the line of voters waiting to vote, resulting in large amount of voters being in the polling station.
• At the polling station #18 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), the commission member is not properly managing the line of voters waiting to vote, and is letting too many individuals into the precinct, causing noise and disturbance at the station.
Voting with improper documentation
• At the polling station #74 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), a voter was allowed to cast a vote even though the ID they provided was a driving license.
Violation of mobile ballot box sealing and restriction of voting right
• At the polling station #51 of the election district #20 (Rustavi), the seal for the mobile ballot box was broken. As a result, the commission cancelled casting of a vote through mobile ballot box. This would have resulted in restriction of voting rights. The incident was resolved after the ISFED observer interfered.
Improper placement of the ballot paper in the ballot box
• At the polling station #14 of the election district #6 (Samgori), a voter placed ballot paper in the ballot box intended for another precinct.
Improper issuance of ballot papers
• At the polling station #10 of the election district #20 (Rustavi), the registrar incorrectly gave a voter two proportional ballot papers.
• At the polling station #46 of the election district #59 (Kutaisi), a voter was given two ballot papers for the same race.
• At the polling station #41 of the election district #3 (Saburtalo), the number of ballot papers handed over was not enough.
Destroying ballot paper by a voter
• At the polling station #73 of the election district #20 (Rustavi), the voter destroyed his ballot papers.
Inadequate handling of electoral documentation
• At the polling station #58 of the election district #59 (Kutaisi), the registrar did not manage to ensure that the voter put their signature in the right spot on the voters list.
• At the polling station #31 of the election district #20 (Rustavi), the registrar failed to put their signature in the list.
ISFED allows you to follow the election process online, by going to the elections web-portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations are 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 reminds voters that in order to vote they should have with them: Georgian citizen ID card or a Passport.
ISFED calls upon all eligible voters in Georgia to go to the polls and express their free will by voting in favor of a candidate of their choice.
ISFED will release its next statement at 19:00
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 Federal Foreign
Office of Germany 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 Federal
Republic of Germany, or NED.