OPENING AND SETTING UP OF POLLING STATIONS - DATA FOR 11 AM
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED Election Day Observation Mission consists of around 1000 accredited and trained observers deployed to polling stations, 73 observers deployed at district electoral commissions and 78 mobile groups. ISFED also operates PVT and Incident Centers in the central office with 20 operators and 11 lawyers. The current elections are taking places during a global pandemic: COVID-19. ISFED staff and observers are following the safety guidelines as necessitated by COVID-19 while they conduct their observation duties.
The Election Day Mission is a continuation of ISFED’s observation of the pre-election period, which commenced on June 1 and included deploying 68 Long-Term Observers (LTOs), as well as the analysis of the social media environment.
ISFED’s Election Day observation of the Parliamentary Elections is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, where PVT observers are deployed to a statistically a sound, nationally representative sample of polling stations throughout the country. The PVT methodology enables ISFED to quickly detect violations, systematically evaluate the quality of the entire Election Day process, and verify the accuracy official results of the proportional race within a small margin of error.
In this statement, ISFED presents information about the opening of polling stations and commencement of voting process.
ISFED observers were allowed to access and monitor nearly all polling stations. At four polling stations, ISFED observers faced problems in entering the PEC premises.
One of the important problem identified by ISFED was violation of the secrecy of vote. Voters were leaving voting booths in a way that allowed others in the polling station to identify which party/candidate they had cast the vote for.
At several polling stations, COVID-19 regulations were violated. Namely, registrars and voter flow regulators were not asking voters to take off their facemasks when presenting their IDs. Additionally, there were several violations of the procedure of casting of lots and in terms of arbitrary switching of functions.
Presence of the so-called coordinators who are standing near polling stations and marking the voters who had cast their ballots remains a problem again. ISFED assesses this as voter intimidation and control of their will.
As of 11:00, ISFED observers filed 10 complaints at Precinct Election Commissions, 6 complaints at District Election Commissions and 14 entries in the record book.
Detailed Information from the PVT
ISFED has received reports on the opening of polling stations from 97% of PVT observers. .
In 99.5% of polling stations, ISFED observers were free to observe the opening process of the polling stations. This is a statistically insignificant change compared to the corresponding data from the 2016 Parliamentary Elections (100%).
1.8% of the polling stations were not ready to receive voters by 8:00am, compared to 4.2% in 2016 Parliamentary elections. Voting started with minor delays delay at these polling stations and as of this statement, they are all open and operating.
Procedural violation of casting lots was observed at 0.9% of the polling stations. This is an increase from the 2016 elections, when the corresponding number stood at 0.3%
For details, please see the section of violations below.
As of now, ISFED observers have reported following violations:
On October 30, in the evening, a public servant from Kvareli Municipality reached out to ISFED, informing the organization that public servants were asked to show up at polling stations from 8:00am to 9:00am, and bring out open ballot papers from voting booths.
Violation of observer’s rights
- At polling station #54 of Rustavi election district (#20), ISFED’s observer was not allowed to enter the polling station before 8:00am.
- At polling station #21 of Chkhorotsku election district (69), ISFED observer was not allowed to enter the polling station before 7:25am.
- At polling station #9 of Kobuleti election district (#81), ISFED’s observer was not allowed to enter the polling station before 8:00am.
- At polling station #25 of Marneuli election district (#22), ISFED observer is not allowed to move freely within the polling station.
Violation of the secrecy of vote
- At polling station #30 of Gurjaani election district (#12), the secrecy of vote is being violated. Namely, voters are taking their ballots from the voting booth in a way that allows others in the polling station to identify which party/candidate they cast the vote for.
- At polling station #47 of Gurjaani election district (#12), many voters are taking open ballots from the voting booth so that others present at the polling station can identify which party/candidate they cast the vote for. Georgian Dream members are aggressively responding to ISFED observer’s remarks. The PEC chair says voters have the right to bring out open ballot papers.
- At polling station #18 of Dedoplistkaro election district (#14), voter marked his/her choice at registrar’s table, with PEC chair and members failing to react to it.
- At polling station #9 of Batumi election district (#78), a voter took ballots from the voting booth in a way that allowed others to identify which party/candidate he/she voted for.
Procedural violation of casting lots
- At polling station #90 of Nadzaladevi election district (#9), casting of lots for the selection of commission members accompanying the mobile ballot box was carried out with violations. Namely, commission members arbitrarily switched their slips of paper, where their assigned functions were specified.
- At polling station #24 of Mtskheta election district (#27), the commission chair did not put a stamp on slips of paper. The DEC instructed the PEC to conduct repeat casting of lots, but the latter was not fulfilling the instruction.
- At polling station #12 in Nadzaladevi election district (#9), casting of lots for the selection of commission members accompanying the mobile ballot box was carried out with violations. Namely, commission member from the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia announced that she was assigned with the function of accompanying the mobile box, but her slip of paper was empty and the role was not assigned to her. Observers pointed at this, but no repeat casting of lots was initiated.
- At polling station #25 in Nadzaladevi election district (#9), commission members arbitrarily switched their assigned roles after lots were cast and functions assigned.
Inaccurate filling in of the ballot box control sheet
- At polling station #24 of Shuakhevi election district (#82), the first voter cast his/her vote without the election commission filling in the control sheet and placing it in the ballot box.
- At polling station #37 of Martvili election district (#65), two control sheets were placed in the main ballot box. As a result, the mobile box is missing a control sheet.
- At polling station #21 of Kaspi election district (#30), the registrar was carrying out the registration procedures without requesting voters to take off their facemasks. The violation was resolved after it was raised.
- At polling station #7 of Kazbegi election district (#29), over 10 voters were not asked to take off their facemasks by the registrar and the voter flow regulator.
- At polling station #29 of Kvareli election district (16), the registrars were not asking voters to take off their facemasks when presenting their IDs.
Presence of unauthorized persons at the polling station
- At polling station #23 of Gori election district (#32), two unauthorized individuals were present at the polling station. They left the premises once the chair instructed them to do so.
- At polling station #11 of Vake election district (#2), two unauthorized individuals were present at the polling station for around 30-40 minutes. The PEC asked them to leave the premises on a number of times, but they did not leave. Later, they eventually left the polling station.
- At polling station #10 of Chokhatauri election district (#62), deputy mayoral representative was present at the polling station without accreditation.
- At polling station #28 of Kharagauli election district (48), mayoral representative in the respective administrative unit was present without accreditation.
Lost ballot box seal
- At polling station #76 of Kutaisi election district (#59), the precinct commission lost ballot box seals, which hindered the process of setting up the precincts and ballot boxes.
- At polling station #22 of Kareli election district (#33), the precinct commission did not have ballot box seals. The PEC requested it from the DEC and the violation was resolved by 9:00am.
Handing of insufficient ballot papers
- At polling station #39 of Kutaisi election district (#59), a voter was given two ballot papers instead of three papers (proportional, majoritarian, mayoral). The violation was addressed after the PEC chair intervened.
Improper signing in the voters list
- At polling station #49 of Isani election district (#5), the registrar signed the unified voters list in the wrong section.
Violation of inking procedure
- At polling station #2 of Vake election district (#6), voters cast their votes in violation of the inking procedure. Namely, the commission member in charge of checking the inking was doing so in a wrong manner, on the front and the palm-side of hands.
Presence of party coordinators outside polling stations
- At polling stations #17 of Sighnaghi election district (#13), unknown individuals with voters lists are seating in a mini-bus and are marking the voters who had cast their ballots.
- At polling stations #6 and #36 of Sachkhere election district (#50), coordinators with voters lists are present near the polling stations;
- At polling station #17 of Zestaponi election district (#51), some individuals are in the polling station premises with voters lists and are marking the voters who had cast their ballots.
ISFED allows you to follow the election process online, by going to the elections web-portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations are immediately posted on the elections map. In addition, anyone can report a violation of the electoral process by sending a text to this toll-free number 90039.
ISFED urges 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 reminds all voters to wear a mask and adhere to the designated safety procedures when voting, including those registered on the mobile ballot box list.
For these elections, the CEC has created 127 polling stations (out of 3,795) as special COVID stations for counting the votes of those placed in self-quarantine. Such voters will cast their votes through mobile box.
ISFED will release its next statement at 15:00
ISFED's monitoring mission is made possible by the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU). The opinions expressed herein belong solely to the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID, the United States Government or the EU.
 The sample includes three special stations and 25 stations for quarantined voters, where ISFED is not carrying out observation.