The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the second round of 2018 Presidential Elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED Observation Mission consists of 651 short-term observers (STO) at polling stations, 73 observers deployed at district electoral commissions (DECs) and 78 mobile teams. ISFED observers are also present at 12 polling stations abroad. PVT and Incident Centers are operating in the central office staffed with 15 operators and 10 lawyers.
ISFED’s observation of the second round of Presidential 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.
In this statement, ISFED presents information about voter turnout as of 12:00 and any violations that have been reported by this time.
At the moment of this statement, an important trend is the attempts to influence the will of the voters. Similar to the first round of the presidential elections, supporters of Georgian Dream and candidate Salome Zourabichvili, and so called “party coordinators” are mobilized outside of polling stations in various districts. They are tracking the voters who came to the polling stations. ISFED observer also identified a possible case of vote buying near a precinct.
Violations of secrecy of vote still continue and became a trend during voting process. Taking into account the cases of intimidation on the voters during the pre-election period, the violations of secrecy of vote are concerning since it negatively affects the free expression of the will of the voters.
Cases of aggressive attitude towards ISFED observers and interference in their work were identified on and near several precincts. Commission chairpersons and other observers restricted ISFED observers to take photos/videos or denied entry to polling stations. Apart from this, ISFED observer was physically assaulted by the chairman at the PEC#10 of Marneuli district. Such cases are categorically unacceptable. ISFED calls upon the election administration to act on the abovementioned and ensure that all observers conduct their work in a safe and free environment.
At the moment of the statement ISFED has filed 22 complaints at the PECs. 22 complaints are filed at the DECs as well.
Voter Turnout by 12:00 (PVT Results)
According to ISFED PVT data, voter turnout by 12:00 is 19.5%, (with a margin of error of +/-0.3%), which is higher than the first round of presidential elections when voter turnout by 12:00 was 16.0%.
In Tbilisi, by noon, the voter turnout was 18.2%, which is higher compared to the voter turnout at 12:00 during the first round of elections (13.2%). In regions (outside of Tbilisi) voter turnout was 19.9%, whereas for the first round of elections the voter turnout by 12:00 in regions was 15.8%.
PVT analysis allows us to calculate the average time it takes for a polling station to process a voter. According to the information recorded from the PECs, in 69.3% of polling stations, the commission processed, on average, one voter per minute, while in more than 30.7% of polling stations the commission processed 1 to 2 voters per minute.
As of now, ISFED observers have reported the following violations:
- At the PEC #2 of the election district #65 (Vake), people are mobilized near precinct. ISFED observer identified an instance of potential vote buying when a Georgian Dream coordinator gave money to the voter outside of the PEC. When observer asked what the money was for, the coordinator answered that she was lending it to the voter. It should also be noted that people outside the precinct were aggressive and interfered in the work of the observer.
Violations of the secrecy of vote
- At the PEC #74 of the election district #79 (Batumi), five cases of photographing ballot papers by the voters in the voting booth were identified. Voters were showing photographs to the persons sitting in a minibus outside of the precinct.
- At the PEC #80 of the election district #67 (Zugdidi), three voters showed to the commission their ballot papers marked in favor of Salome Zourabichvili. Chairperson of the commission reacted on these cases and instructed voters to place the ballot paper in an envelope.
- At the PEC #20 of the election district #36 (Borjomi), a representative from Georgian Dream openly checked ballot papers of three voters after they left the voting booth.
Alleged attempt to influence the voters’ will
- At the PEC #8 of the election district #14 (Dedoplistskaro), representatives of Georgian Dream were tracking voters at the precinct in their list. They showed aggression towards ISFED’s observer who attempted to identify the fact.
- At the PEC #25 of the election district #11 (Sagarejo), representative of the candidate Salome Zourabichvili were checking the voters at the precinct in their list.
- At the PEC #1 of the election district #4 (Krtsanisi), several so called coordinators from Georgian Dream were outside the precinct in the car. They had lists of voters with photographs checking whether they casted a vote or not.
- At the PEC #30, #31, #32, #33 and #40 of the election district #10 (Gldani), so called coordinators from Georgian Dream were tracking the voters in their lists outside the precinct.
- At the PEC #39 of the election district #20 (Rustavi), likely Georgian Dream representatives were checking the voters in their lists. After the arrival of observer, they left the precinct territory.
- At the PEC #56, #58, #59 and #87 of the election district #6 (Samgori),Georgian Dream representatives had their lists, however they hid the documentation when the observer approached them.
- In front of the PEC #33 and #36 of the election district #62 (Chokhatauri), school teachers, principals and other employees of budgetary organizations were mobilized.
- At the election district #49 (Terjola), voters were brought by a minibus near Georgian Dream office. Voters were told that they would be taken to the precinct in order to cast their votes.
- At the PEC #25, #31, #32, #65, #69 and #77 of the election district #79 (Batumi), Georgian Dream activists were mobilized, while outside of the PEC #58 the Chairperson of the Sakrebulo (City Assembly) Legal Issues Commission – Omar Makharadze was present and simultaneously was campaigning.
- At the PEC #34 of the election district #8 (Didube), queue regulator read the name and surname of voters loudly and the representative from the organization Unanimity for Public Rights was marking this information in his notebook.
Restricting the rights of observers and physical assault
- At the PEC #10 of the election district #22 (Marneuli), ISFED observer’s right to take photos and video was restricted. Chairperson of the PEC stated that taking photos and videos by a phone is prohibited. Chairperson threatened the observer that he would “break his head” and attempted to take away observer’s phone. Following upon this incident, the observer filed a complaint to the PEC. After having requested the registration certificate of the complaint, chairperson of the commission physically assaulted the observer and forcefully removed him from the PEC.
- At the PEC #20 of the election district #67 (Zugdidi), the civilian alliance For Development attempted to prevent ISFED mobile observer from entering the precinct. Chairperson of the verbally warned the the representative of For Development.
- At the PEC #10 of the election district #2 (Vake), Chairperson of the commission and the representative of the candidate Salome Zourabichvili, limited ISFED’s observers right to take photos and videos and hindered her to comprehensively observe the ongoing processes. Chairperson of the commission threatened and warned the observer that she would be removed from the PEC.
Improper handling of election documentation
- At the PEC #8 of the election district #21 (Gardabani), members of commission signed the summary protocol in advance in order to save time. District commission sealed and took the summary protocol to the district.
- At the PEC #30 of the election district #30 (Kaspi); at the PEC #1 of the election district #81 (Kobuleti) and the PEC #57 of the election district #60 (Ozurgeti) there was no remark made in the voters’ list regarding the voters in the mobile ballot box list.
- At the PEC #57 of the election district #60 (Ozurgeti), the number of received ballot papers was not entered into demonstrating protocol.
Violations regarding signatures in the voters list
- At the PEC #6 of the election district #62 (Chokhatauri), the registrar let two voters to improperly sign in the voters list.
- At the PEC #46 of the election district #56 (Chiatura), the registrar failed to ensure the proper signing in the voters list by a voter.
Violations regarding mobile ballot box voting
- At the PEC #10 of the election district #2 (Vake), a voter who arrived at the precinct appeared to be in the list of mobile ballot box. The voter claimed that he did not ask voting by mobile ballot box. Chairperson of the commission stated that they received the request via telephone call which became the grounds for adding the voter in the mobile ballot list. Ultimately, the voter was not able to cast a vote at the precinct.
- At the PEC #25 of the election district #4 (Krtsanisi), a voter who was in the mobile ballot box list was allowed to vote at the precinct.
Placing ballot papers in the mobile ballot box without envelopes
- At the PEC #23 of the election district #27 (Mtskheta) and at the PEC #18 of the election district #30 (Kaspi), two observers placed ballot papers in the mobile ballot box without envelopes.
ISFED allows citizens to follow the election process online via Elections Portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations are immediately posted on the incident map. In addition, anyone can report violation of the electoral process by sending a text to a toll-free number 90039.
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 reminds voters to have one of the following documents with them to be able to participate in the elections:
- Georgian citizen ID card
- Passport of a citizen of Georgia
ISFED will release its next statement at 15:30
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) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The Mission is also supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Runoff Election Day observation is carried out with financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 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, NED, the United States Government, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Norwegian Embassy, British Embassy, or EED.