Opening and Setting up of Polling Stations
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the second round of the local self-government elections on July 12, 2014 in 28 electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED’s observation mission consists of approximately800 accredited and trained observers, including 32 mobile teams, deployed to precinct and district election commissions throughout the country, as well as the central election commission.
For the second round elections, ISFED deployed observers to:
· a representative, random sample of 350 polling stations in Tbilisi;
· all polling stations in 4 self-governing cities (Rustavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Ozurgeti) and 7 local communities (Khoni, Bagdati, Tkibuli, Terjola, Lanchkhuti, Khulo, Akhmeta)
· the remaining 7 electoral districts (Batumi, Poti, Kobuleti, Telavi, Kvareli, Martvili, Tianeti), where ISFED will conduct mobile observation.
ISFED’s Election Day observation for the second round is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, which enables us to timely detect violations, systematically evaluate the Election Day process and verify the accuracy of the official election results. ISFED has over ten years of experience in implementing the PVT since 2003. The second round of these local elections are the ninth elections for ISFED to use PVT methodology for evaluating the Election Day process and projecting the election results.
On July 12, 2014 local elections, voters will elect 8 mayors and 13 chief executives (Gamgebelis) in self-governing cities and municipalities where the candidates failed to secure 50%+1of votes in the first round of the elections.
At this point, ISFED has received information about opening of the polling stations from 99.7% of the PVT observers. In this report we present information about opening of polling stations and commencement of voting.
Based on ISFED observers’ reports, the opening process has improved as compared to the first round of the 2014 local self-government elections. No significant violations were observed during the opening at the majority of the polling stations at self-governing cities or municipalities monitored by ISFED observers. However, a fact of ballot stuffing was observed at precinct #36, Khulo district. In addition, minor procedural violations were detected at some polling stations. For details, please see the section on violations below.
All ISFED observers had the opportunity to monitor the opening processes at all of their polling stations without obstacles. Almost all polling stations were ready to receive voters by 8:00am – 99.4% in Tbilisi, 83.3% in Mtskheta, 96.3% in Khoni, 97.3% in Tkibuli and all polling stations in Gori, Rustavi, Ozurgeti self-governing cities and Lanchkhuti, Khulo, Akhmeta, Baghdati and Terjola communities.
As of now, ISFED observers have reported the following violations:
· 1 case of ballot stuffing: at precinct #36, Khulo district, the ISFED observer witnessed the PEC chairman stuffing 3 ballot papers. While reporting the violation to the ISFED central office, ISFED observer was verbally attacked by the PEC chairman, who prevented the observer from continuing the phone conversation. ISFED will file an official complaint regarding this violation.
· 2 cases of improper documentation: 1 case of improper filling out of the control sheet: at precinct #9, Rustavi district. Also, at precinct #18, Lanchkhuti district, the number of received ballots by the polling station was not reflected in the public display protocol and the record book after the number was announced verbally.
· 1 case of an unauthorized person present at the polling station: 2 representatives of one electoral subject (Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi – Patriots’ Alliance of Georgia) were observed at precinct #3, Lanchkhuti district. After bringing the fact to the PEC Chairman’s attention, one of the representatives had to leave the polling station.
· 1 case of violating the lottery procedure: at precinct #30, Terjola district, Ketevan Kezeradze – a Free Democrats party appointed commission member failed to participate in the lottery procedure. She also accompanied the mobile ballot box, instead of a member that was designated to perform this function by the lottery among the PEC members. A note reflecting this change of functions was not reflected in the PEC record book. The PEC chairman did not react upon this fact, notwithstanding being informed by the observer.
· 1 case of voting without checking the invisible ink: at precinct #9, Baghdati district.
As of now, ISFED observers have filed 3 complaints at the election commissions.
Together with partner organizations, ISFED posts the results of its monitoring online by means of elections web portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations reported by the three non-governmental organizations are immediately pinpointed on a map. Further, any citizen can send information about electoral violations by sending a free SMS to the number 90039.
ISFED observers report information to the data analysis center in Tbilisi via short text messages (SMSs), phone calls, and tablet PCs. The Data Analysis Center is comprised of 15 data operators, 15 lawyers, and the staff of the Central Office. ISFED has built a sophisticated PVT database that processes the observers’ texts and automatically gives observers feedback based on an artificial intelligence algorithm. 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.
ISFED would like to remind voters to have one of the documents listed below with them to be able to participate in the elections:
· Georgian citizen ID card
· Passport of a citizen of Georgia (the so-called international passport)
· Certificate of an IDP (together with an ID card).
ISFED calls upon all eligible voters in Georgia to participate in the elections and to freely express their will by voting in favor of a candidate of their choice.
ISFED will issue next statement at 15:00.
ISFED election monitoring is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands in Georgia and the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF). The content of this statement is the responsibility of ISFED and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government, the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands in Georgia or the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).