Statement of NGOs on Photo and Video Shooting in Polling Stations

On September 24, 2-12, several days before the parliamentary elections, the Central Elections Commission adopted a resolution N42/2012 regulating photo and video shooting at election precincts on the polling day. 

The resolution was appealed by ISFED and other NGOs in all court instances one year ago, seeking its annulment. However the claim was regrettably rejected by all courts. Considering that the CEC is considering expediency of the resolution, we would like to express once more our position about the issue. 

We believe that the resolution contradicts the right to video and photo recording envisaged by para.25, Article 8 of the Election Code of Georgia due to the following circumstances: Under the cited provision, persons authorized to be present at the polling place are entitled to conduct photo and video shooting of the polling station, except for the polling booths and as long as it does not obstruct the work of the commission. 

The noted provision is delegating the right restriction of which is outside the scope of the authority of an administrative agency by means of a sublegal normative act. The CEC’s resolution restricts the right to photo and video shooting more than it is envisaged by the Election Code. For instance, under para.2, Article 2 of the resolution, minimum distance between photo or video shooter and an object of shooting is at least three meters. Further, under para.4, Article 3 of the Resolution if an individual relocates or leaves the polling station with a camera, s/he loses the right to shoot. Additionally, many norms of the resolution are ambiguous, allowing different interpretation making it possible to restrict the right to photo and video recording even more. Under para.2, Article 30 of the Election Code of Georgia, resolution of the CEC is a sublegal normative act that can only be adopted in cases expressly defined by law; further, the resolution can be used to adopt an instruction describing individual election procedures that may not contain any new norm that differs from applicable law and that may provide detailed description of a procedure envisaged by law. The existing resolution falls short of the requirement of the Election Code as para.25, Article 8 of the Election Code does not straightforwardly call for adoption of resolution and determination of additional procedure. Further, as noted above, the resolution places prohibitions of photo and video shooting broader than those envisaged by the Election Code. 

This way, the resolution goes beyond the stipulations of law and establishes restricting norms that diverge from the Election Code. The resolution clearly restricts the right to photo and video shooting envisaged by para.25, Article 8 of the Election Code, which we deem unacceptable. Therefore, we call on the CEC to put to vote annulment of illegal provisions of the resolution.