Opening and Setting up of Polling Stations
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the June 15, 2014 local self-government elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED’s observation mission consists of approximately 1,300 accredited and trained observers, including 80 mobile teams, deployed to precinct, district and central election commissions throughout the country.
ISFED’s Election Day observation 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. These local elections are the eighth elections for ISFED to use PVT methodology for evaluating the Election Day process and projecting the election results.
For the June 15, 2014 local self-government elections ISFED deployed observers to:
· a nationally representative, random sample of 300polling stations throughout Georgia;
· a representative, random sample of 350 polling stations in Tbilisi; and
· all polling stations 11 self-governing cities: Kutaisi, Rustavi, Batumi, Poti, Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Zugdidi.
For these local elections, voters will elect 2,088 council members to 71 local councils (Sakrebulos). In addition, 12 self-governing cities will elect mayors and other municipalities will elect 59 chief executives (Gamgebelis). This is the first time that mayors (outside of the Tbilisi) and Gamgebelis will be directly elected.
In this statement, ISFED presents information about opening of polling stations and commencement of voting.
Based on the information provided by ISFED’s observers, the opening process has improved as compared to the 2013 Presidential Election. All ISFED observers had the opportunity to access and monitor all of their polling stations. 98.7% of polling stations were ready to receive voters by 8:00am, while in 2013, 95.7% of stations were ready by 8:00am. This is similar to the 2010 local elections, when 99.8 % of polling stations were ready for voting.
Detailed Information from the PVT
ISFED has received reports on the opening of polling stations from 99.7 % of PVT observers
At 100% of polling stations, observers were free to observe the opening process, compared to 99.8% of polling stations during the 2013 elections.
In almost all of polling stations, no significant violations were detected during the opening. This is similar to the 2013 presidential elections.
The opening process has also gone well in the self-governing cities. None of them differ significantly from the national trend described above.
For details, please see the section of violations below.
As of now, ISFED observers have reported following violations:
· 1 case of stealing of election material: ballot papers and stamps have been stolen from precinct #16, Martvili district. The location of the stolen material has been determined and the investigation is underway. There are 380 registered voters at the mentioned precinct. An ISFED observer is monitoring the developments at the Martvili District Election Commission;
· 1 case of campaigning: a voter wearing a t-shirt with #41 (Georgian Dream election number) has been observed in precinct #24, Lanchkhuti district;
· Presence of unauthorized persons: Non-Parliamentary Opposition and United National Movement candidates were present as proxies of respective electoral subjects at precincts #1 and #30 in Sighnaghi district. Nino Burjanadze – Unified Opposition candidate was at precinct #1, Aspindza as an observer. Georgian Electoral Code prohibits candidates from being inside the polling station; also, an individual cannot be a candidate and an observer at the same time.
· Procedure violation resulting in invalidation of ballots:precinct #89, Zugdidi district failed to place a control sheet in the ballot box, which resulted in delaying the voting and invalidating five ballot papers. The ballot box has been re-sealed and voting continues.
As of now, ISFED observers have filed 9 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 20 data operators, 20 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.
This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of ISFED and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. Election activities including this report are kindly supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands in Georgia.