Voting Process and Closing of Polling Station
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is monitoring the June 15, 2014 local self-government elections in all electoral districts around Georgia. ISFED’s observation mission consists of approximately 1,300 accredited and trained observers, including 80 mobile teams, deployed to precinct, district and central election commissions throughout the country.
ISFED’s Election Day observation is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, which enables us to timely detect violations, systematically evaluate the Election Day process and verify the accuracy of the official election results. ISFED has more than ten years of experience in implementing the PVT. These local elections are the eighth elections for which ISFED is using the PVT methodology to evaluate the Election Day process and to project results.
For the June 15, 2014 local self-government elections ISFED deployed observers to:
• a nationally representative, random sample of 300 polling stations throughout Georgia;
• a representative, random sample of 349 polling stations in Tbilisi; and
• all polling stations 11 self-governing cities: Kutaisi, Rustavi, Batumi, Poti, Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Zugdidi.
For these local elections, voters will elect 2,088 council members to 71 local councils (Sakrebulos). In addition, 12 self-governing cities will elect mayors and other municipalities will elect 59 chief executives (Gamgebelis). This is the first time that mayors (outside of the Tbilisi) and Gamgebelis will be directly elected.
In this statement, ISFED presents its assessment of the voting process and closing of polling stations based on the information provided by 99.3% of PVT observers.
Based on the analysis of the information received through PVT methodology ISFED concludes that the voting process was conducted in a mostly calm and peaceful environment. At most of the polling stations, the voting process was in compliance with the procedures prescribed by the legislation. Two important drawbacks of the Election Day include the fact that in 3.7% of polling stations nationwide, the secrecy of the ballot was not always safeguarded and in 4% of polling stations, the marking was not always applied to voters.
As of now, ISFED observers have filed 16 complaints at the precinct election commissions, and 66 complaints to the district election commissions.
Detailed Information based on PVT results
• At 97.7% of polling stations in Georgia, voters cast their ballots using proper voter identification. In 2.3% of polling stations, some voters were not requested to present a proper identification document. This figure is similar to the 2010 Local Elections and the 2013 Presidential Election. The situation in the 12 self-governing cities also reflects this positive trend;
• Inking was always properly checked at 97.3% of polling stations, which marks a slight increase from the Presidential Election last year – when inking was always checked at 94.8% of polling stations. This is also an improvement over the 2010 Local Elections when inking was always properly checked at 95.3% of polling stations. When comparing to the national figure, the inking is not checked as often in Mtskheta self-governing city;
• At 99.7% of polling stations, the ballot papers were properly validated with a signature and seal. In 2013 the percentage of such polling stations was 99.1% and in the 2010 local elections, it was 99.3%. The situation in the self-governing cities did not significantly differ from the national figure.
• In 96% of polling stations, voters were always properly inked, a slight decrease from 97.8% during last year’s Presidential Elections. This year is similar to the 2010 Local Elections, when the inking was properly applied at 96.2% of polling stations. The situation in the self-governing cities did not significantly differ from the national figure;
• The secrecy of vote was always ensured at 96.3% of the polling stations. In this case there is no statistically significant difference between this figure nor from the figure of 2010. When comparing to the national figure, the secrecy of the vote was secured slightly less often in the Poti and Ozurgeti self-governing cities;
• At 99.3% of polling stations, there were no reports of pre-made signatures on the voters’ list, which is an improvement compared to 2013 ( 97.4%). In the Poti and Ozurgeti self-governing cities, there were slightly more incidents of pre-made signatures.
• There was intimidation or pressure in only 1.3% of polling stations. The situation in the 12 self-governing cities also reflects this positive trend;
• The process went mainly well, but there were minor shortcomings in 17.4% of polling stations.
Violations reported by ISFED observers on Election Day included:
• Stealing and damaging election material – 1 case
• Campaigning – 5 cases
• Limiting the rights of observers and other individuals authorized to be at the polling station – 9 cases
• Unauthorized persons present at the polling station – 11 cases
• Voting with improper identification document – 10 cases
• Voting without the ink or without checking the ink – 14 cases
• Voters not found in the voter’s list – 4 cases
• Pre-signed voters’ lists – 6 cases
• Registrars failing to validate the ballot paper with a stamp – 3 cases
In addition, ISFED observers witnessed 72 various procedural violations.
Together with partner organizations, ISFED posts the results of its monitoring online by means of elections web portal – www.electionsportal.ge, where election violations reported by the three non-governmental organizations are immediately pinpointed on a map. Further, any citizen can send information about electoral violations by sending a free SMS to the number 90039.
ISFED observers report information to the Data Analysis Center in Tbilisi via short text messages (SMSs), phone calls, and tablet PCs. 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 and automatically gives observers feedback based on an artificial intelligence algorithm. All observer data undergoes several quality control tests and, once those tests have been passed, the data is analyzed and incorporated into ISFED’s findings.
ISFED will issue next statement tomorrow, on June 16.
This mission is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this statement is the responsibility of ISFED and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. Election activities including this statement are also kindly supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands in Georgia