Statement of ISFED about Ongoing Competition for Selection of Electoral Commission Members
The process of selection of precinct electoral commission (PEC) members by district electoral commissions (DECs) was launched on August 19 and will last through August 23.
Selection of certified election officials for PEC membership is a very important process, which involves selection of candidates by district electoral commissions based on their professional skills and assessment of their applications against the requirements, and by ruling out of any political interests and influences.
Certain irregularities in the process of selection of PEC members in some electoral districts have come to ISFED’s attention. In particular, ISFED’s observers have learned from various sources about pre-made lists of PEC members that members of electoral district commission members relied on during the selection process. According to opposition representatives, these lists are dominated by family members and relatives of the Georgian Dream’s activists.
ISFED’s observers were able to obtain such lists in districts of Kobuleti, Samtredia and Senaki. They compared the lists to PEC members selected in these districts and found that the list of PEC members selected in Kobuleti Electoral District was nearly identical to the pre-made list. In Samtredia District 256 out of 300 candidates selected for PEC membership were on the pre-made list. In Senaki, meting of the DEC for selection of precinct electoral commission members has not yet been held.
In addition, during selection of PEC members in Gori, DEC members mostly voted in favor of the first six candidates on the list. Similar pattern of voting was observed in DECs previous years, leading us to believe that results of the selection process may have been fixed.
Naturally, DECs or individual DEC members would want to discuss candidates ahead of the selection process, because it takes some time and effort to form an idea about candidates. However, when DECs agree on which candidates to choose and make lists of selected candidates before the selection process has begun, they should be clear about criteria that they relied on for selection of each candidate. The process should be open for monitoring organizations.
However, preparation of the above lists without any prior discussions is a cause of concern. It creates suspicions that integrity of DECs may have been compromised or DECs may have consulted with third parties in the selection process.
In view of the importance of the process of staffing the electoral administration with certified election officials, we urge the CEC and district electoral commissions subordinated to the CEC to treat selection of PEC members with utmost seriousness and ensure that the process goes on in a transparent manner and without any violations. Election administration should protect its activities from any outside interference and ensure that staffing of precinct electoral commissions is free from political influences. Otherwise, public trust towards the election administration could be jeopardized, which will be detrimental to the election process.