Opening and Setting Up of Polling Stations
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, 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 the information provided by ISFED observers, the opening and setting up process at the polling stations took place without substantial violations. We have observed 7 cases when the documentation was not properly filled out, 5 cases where procedures for the ballot box control sheet were not properly followed, 2 cases where election observers were not allowed to fully observe the processes, 1 case of campaigning at polling station and 2 cases where unauthorized persons were present at the polling station.
Detailed Information from the PVT
ISFED has received reports on the opening of polling stations from 100% of PVT observers.
All ISFED observers (100%) were free to observe the opening process of the polling stations. This matches the same data from 2014 elections.
4.2% of the polling stations were not ready to receive voters by 8:00am, compared to 8.8% in 2012 Parliamentary and 1.3% in 2014 local elections. Voting started with minor delay in the above mentioned polling stations and as of this statement they are all open and operating.
As of now, ISFED observers have reported the following types of violations:
Restricting the rights of election observer:
• At the polling station #96 of the majoritarian district #41 (Gori) the ISFED observer was not initially allowed to enter the polling station because the election commission member questioned the authenticity of the observers’ accreditation (and then later the commission member determined the accreditation was in fact authentic);
• At the polling station #5 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) international observers were not allowed in the polling station between 7am and 8am.
Inaccurate filling in of the ballot box control sheet
• At the polling stations #5 of the majoritarian district #36 (Marneuli) and at the polling stations #70 of the majoritarian district #49 (Kutaisi) ballot box control sheets were filled in with data of the election observers instead of the proper information;
• The polling station #58 of the majoritarian district #70 (Batumi) opened with a 30-minute delay due to incorrect filling in of the ballot box control sheet;
• At the polling station #5 of the majoritarian district #36 (Marneuli) ballot box control sheet was improperly placed in the ballot box after 2 ballots instead of being placed in the box before as prescribed by the law;
• At the polling stations #14 of the majoritarian district #35 (Marneuli) ballot box control sheet was not placed in the mobile ballot box.
Inaccurate processing of election documentation
• At the polling station #11 of the majoritarian district #24 (Gurjaani) information regarding the change of the functions was not properly documented. The incident was resolved after the ISFED observer highlighted it;
• At the polling station #29 of the majoritarian district #25 (Sighnaghi) registrar was improperly stamping and signing the ballot papers in advance;
• At the polling station #31 of the majoritarian district #31 (Gardabani), the polling stations #32 of the majoritarian district #42 (Khashuri), the polling stations #2 of the majoritarian district #60 (Chokhatauri) the electoral commission member incorrectly filled in the demonstration protocol.
• At the polling stations #8 of the majoritarian district #69 (Batumi) the election commission member did not prevent a voter from incorrectly placing both of their ballots into two envelopes (instead of into one envelope).
Campaigning at the polling station
• At the polling stations #24 of the majoritarian district #44 (Akhaltsikhe) one of the voters brought campaign materials. The incident was resolved after the ISFED observer highlighted it.
Presence of unauthorized persons at the polling station
• At the polling station #9 of the majoritarian district #23 (Sagarejo) two representatives of one of the parties were present at the polling station. The incident was resolved after the ISFED observer highlighted it;
• At the polling station #26 of the majoritarian district #39 (Kaspi) the commission member was not properly managing the line of voters waiting to vote. The incident was resolved after the ISFED observer highlighted it.
As of now, ISFED observers have filed 19 complaints with Precinct Electoral Commissions (PECs) and 12 complaints with District Electoral Commissions (DECs). 30 entries were made by ISFED observers in the record book.
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 SMS and/or phone calls. 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 are passed, the data is analyzed and incorporated into ISFED’s findings and conclusions.
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 (the so-called international passport)
· Certificate of an IDP (together with an ID card)
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 15:00
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 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.