ISFED calls for repeat elections in Tianeti Precinct no.20
Tianeti DEC no.19 held a meeting at around 5-6am on October 22, and based on the application of a representative of a political union Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, it opened a sealed package of previously annulled ballot papers in precinct no.20 and recounted them. It was found that the PEC had annulled 5 ballots including 4 where only one candidate was marked and 1 where one candidate was crossed out and another one was marked. In all five cases voters had cast their votes in favor of the Georgian Dream mayoral candidate. The DEC found these ballots to be valid, resulting in victory of the ruling party candidate. The DEC meeting was attended by ISFED observer.
The process of counting of votes and drawing up of summary protocols at PEC no.20 of Tianeti was attended by ISFED observer. The observer reported that both polling and vote counting process was conducted peacefully. During counting of votes none of the monitoring organizations and political party representatives expressed a different opinion about ballots that were invalidated. In essentially all cases commission resolved the fate of suspicious ballots unanimously and none of the individuals that were present, including a representative of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia objected and said that the PEC had annulled valid ballots. According to ISFED observer, all annulled ballots had been rightfully considered to be invalid and they didn’t include any ballots that had been filled out in a manner that made the voter’s decision clear.
In light of this, it is suspicious and unclear how five valid ballot papers that have been filled out in a manner that makes the voter’s decision clear appeared among the annulled ones. It is especially peculiar that during counting of votes none of the political party representatives objected to this fact.
Immediate action taken by the DEC in response to the request of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia’s representative to open the sealed package and recount invalid ballots is unusual in view of the fact that the commission considered the request within 1-2 hours after it was filed, in the early morning of October 22. There has not been a single case in the past where a DEC took such immediate actions in response to a complaint of ISFED. Of note is the fact that DECs rarely grant request to open a sealed package and recount votes, even when there is a high likelihood of violation.
The DEC’s decision is even more surprising in view of the fact that the application of the Georgian Dream representative is completely unfounded, it does not contain any information about the type of violation that allegedly occurred during counting of votes and is based on vague assumptions: “In order to verify invalid ballots at PEC no.20 under Tianeti DEC no.19, we appeal to you with a request to open and verify the sealed package that contains the ballots because annulled ballots that were disputed may resolve the fate of the entire elections.”
The above circumstances call results of the mayoral election in Tianeti precinct into question, where the Georgian Dream candidate got only 4 votes more than her opponent. To guarantee public trust and legitimacy of elections, we call for invalidating results at the polling station no.20 and holding of repeat elections.