Transparency International Georgia's assessment of the 2014 local government elections
Transparency International Georgia monitored the 15 June 2014 local government elections with 450 local observers. The organization monitored polling stations in Tbilisi through 373 stationary observers. Along with the stationary observers, 15 mobile groups followed the electoral process in Tbilisi. Beyond Tbilisi the organization monitored the process in 29 municipalities and self-governing cities in the country’s five regions through 25 mobile groups.
In Kvemo Kartli, the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) monitored the elections under Transparency International Georgia’s aegis.
The election day was generally calm. Polling stations mostly opened on time and the vote launch procedures were conducted in compliance with the law. Polling stations had been supplied with all the necessary documents. There were a few instances of ballot paper stealing and loss of stamps.
Precinct 16 in the Martvili Electoral District was an exception as electoral documents were stolen by force in the early hours of the election day there. The Internal Affairs Ministry has launched an investigation into this incident.
The Internal Affairs Ministry generally ensured order. There were no outstanding incidents in special polling stations. There were no attempts to obstruct journalists’ work. There were few instances of campaigning in polling stations.
There were, once again, attempts of unofficial registration of voters in some polling stations, which is not a violation of the law by itself but has become a trend. There were also problems concerning voter lists.
By the time voting ended, Transparency International Georgia had recorded some 30 serious and 15 less serious violations throughout the country. We have filed 16 appeals. Some districts, for example Martvili and Zugdidi, stood out for the number of violations and tension. The majority of the recorded violations were technical and could not have had a significant impact on the final election results.
The following main trends can be noted:
1. Problems concerning voter lists
In some 350 voters in approximately 300 precincts had problems concerning voter lists. They were unable to find themselves in the lists.
2. Voting with violation of inking procedures (five precincts)
The inking verification device was out of order in precincts 8, 14, 15, 18, 20 of the Martvili Electoral District and people voted in violation of the procedure for a few hours.
3. Obstruction of observers’ work (three precincts)
Case where precinct electoral commission members obstructed the work of observers were recorded in Precinct 4 in Poti, Precinct 30 in Khelvachauri, and Precinct 41 in Samtredia.
4. Problems of inaccuracies in mobile ballot box lists (two precincts)
These problems were recorded in two precincts. In Precinct 15 of the Mtatsminda Electoral District, voting was conducted with ballot papers that did not carry a commission member’s signature or stamp. In Precinct #14 of the Isani Electoral District the data for 10 of the 14 people on the mobile ballot box list was inaccurate and they were unable to vote. After the ballot box returned to the polling station, the Precinct Electoral Commission decided to conduct a new vote with the mobile ballot box with corrected data.
5. Other violations of voting procedures (two precincts)
In Precinct 42 of the Zugdidi Electoral District, ballot papers were found in one of the rooms. The act of receipt had not been written in the precinct. In Precinct 79 of the Samgori Electoral District, it turned out three hours after the start of voting that the voting was being conducted with the ballot papers printed for Precinct 117. There were problems with ballot papers in two precincts.
6. Voting with incorrect documents (two precincts)
Voting with incorrect documents took place in Precinct #17 of the Krtsanisi Electoral District and Precinct 15 of the Mtatsminda Electoral District.
7. Pressure on voters (one precinct)
Head of village administration and Georgian Dream’s activists engaged in campaigning in the polling station’s yard in Precinct 8 of the Kharagauli Electoral District and threatened voters with withdrawal of social aid if they failed to vote for Georgian Dream. The same individuals were aggressive toward observers and the voters who exited the polling station.
8. Attempt to thwart voting process (two precincts)
The voting process was thwarted in Precinct 32 of the Zugdidi Electoral District and Precinct 16 of the Martvili Electoral District.
9. Qualifications of precinct electoral commission members and their management of the voting process
Only two members of the commission were present in Precinct 25 of the Gardabani Electoral District. Unauthorized individuals moved freely around the polling station and inking was not being checked. According to the commission members, they had moved to an adjacent room for lunch.
10. Thwarting of vote count procedures
Late at night, Georgian Dream’s local campaign staff reported that 15 individuals dressed in black and wearing masks had broken into Precinct 36 in the village of Akhalsopeli in the Zugdidi Electoral District. According to the original report, these individuals had attempted to thwart the vote count process since, according to Georgian Dream, the United National Movement was losing the vote in this precinct. The commission was able to contact police and all 15 assailants were detained. The alleged assailants were taken to the regional police directorate in Zugdidi. United National Movement representatives Giga Bokeria and Nugzar Tsiklauri also arrived there and physical confrontation occurred. Around 0400 hours, all detainees were taken out of the police building and were reportedly released. Two of the detainees, Levan Toria and Tato Lagvilava, are active supporters of the United National Movement.
Kakha Mikaia, Georgian Dream’s candidate for local council, commented on the incident and said that some of the individuals who broke into the polling stations were deliberately planning a provocation. According to Mikaia, they carried CEC badges. Ala Tsurtsumia, a member of the precinct commission appointed by the Free Democrats party, said that no confrontation, obstruction, break-in or smashing of windows had occurred in the polling station and that there had only been noise outside. She also said that the United National Movement and its candidate for the head of local administration were winning the precinct with a majority of the vote.
We received the same information from the precinct electoral commission chairman who arrived at the district electoral commission quite late, around 0600 hours. He said that the United National Movement was winning the precinct by a margin of 34 votes and that he did not know anything about the incident that had occurred outside. The observers who monitored the precinct said the same.
Results of Parallel Vote Tabulation
Transparency International Georgia covered all 10 electoral districts in Tbilisi by deploying stationary observers to 373 randomly selected precincts throughout the capital. The following are the findings of our organization’s parallel voting tabulation for mayoral elections and proportional party lists. The margin of error for this data is 0.5 percent.
Proportional Vote Results
Tbilisi Mayoral Race Results
Law enforcements agencies must investigate all cases related to the disruption of voting procedures and electoral process thoroughly. It is important that all individuals involved in the disruption of the election process be held accountable.
The capabilities and qualifications of the Central Election Commission (CEC) staff can be improved. Even though CEC representatives generally coped with their responsibilities during the election process, there were cases when precinct election commission staff lacked knowledge of specific electoral procedures.
- It is important for the appropriate agencies to undertake to improve voter lists. Creation of biometric lists is also advisable as it would improve the quality of the voter lists significantly.