No major violations observed at the April 27, 2013 By-Elections - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

No major violations observed at the April 27, 2013 By-Elections

03 May, 2013

 

Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) deployed six mobile teams to observe today’s Parliamentary By-Elections taking place in three single-mandate districts: Nadzaladevi, Baghdati and Samtredia. Our observers visited all Nadzaladevi polling stations and were able to cover 40 stations in Samtredia and 22 in Baghdati districts today. A calm and relaxed atmosphere reigned over these elections, along with a low rate of participation.

We lodged only one complaint on election day: at the polling station #20 located in the village of Khiblari, Samtredia, a citizen who was not registered either in the mobile ballot box list or the general voters list, voted via the mobile box. She placed her signature in the space allotted to another voter, who was then still allowed to vote despite a signature being in place across her name. As a result of our complaint, the precinct commission decided to annul the mobile box votes because more citizens had voted, than there were signatures. We did not observe any other significant violations; however, our observers recorded a couple dozen of remarks in the precinct commission registries.

1. Some of the minor violations we observed on election day:

  • At Samtredia’s polling stations #43 and 12, two persons (one at each) claimed they represented the Central Election Commission (CEC) at the polling stations but had no official badges to prove it. They said their badges were to arrive during the day. Upon our observer’s request, these persons left the respective polling stations.

  • Our observer discovered materials bearing the Georgian Dream logo and name on a secretary's desk at a polling station #29 in village Dabla Gomi of Samtredia district. The materials were removed and hidden after TI Georgia's observer pointed out the violation and thrown away after the observer indicated the breach again.

  • Georgian Dream Campaign material was posted nearby Baghdati polling station #10 which was removed upon our observers’ request;

  • A nongovernmental organization Election Environment Development Center was represented by three observers at three polling stations in Samtredia: #3, 12 and 40. Two observers left each of the above-mentioned polling stations after our observers pointed out the violation.

  • At Samtredia’s #50 polling station a non-governmental organization New Generation Democratic Elections was represented by two observers. One representative left the polling station upon our observer’s request.

2. Police officers’ alleged involvement in the agitation

During the day, the representatives of the United National Movement reported that in the  Vartsikhe village of  Baghdati municipality, near district #10, there was a police car, in which police officers spoke with members of the polling station commission. Our observers went to the polling station, but they were not able to confirm the information due to the absence of  witnesses. It’s worth noting, that the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a response to the mentioned incident, by reporting that such incident had not occurred. However, it is vital to investigate this allegation thoroughly, as pressure from law enforcement agencies, on members of the election committee,  is a serious offence that includes imprisonment from 2 to 5 years.

3. Use of social and political advertising

On 27 April, TV stations, Imedi and Rustavi-2, broadcasted commercials popularising the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. Firstly, the mentioned information was spread by the  Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections. The clip contains political content. The recommendation, issued on 20 April by the Inter-Agency Commission, which appealed to the government to stop broadcasting videos-representing projects that have already been executed or planned to be implemented-has not been taken into consideration. (For instance proceed to Rustavi 2 archive, 11:57:55 AM, 27 April). We consider that the advertisement of the MIA is of political nature, as social advertising is: “an advertisement that promotes public good and charitable aim; that is neither commercial or election advertisement; nor advertisement of a legal entity of public law, or a governmental organization; as well as advertisement of the services provided by them.” (Law of Georgia on Broadcasting, Article 2; Law of Georgia on Advertising, Article 12). Airing the mentioned advertisement was in clear violation of the law.

4. Insufficient amounts of ballots at the polling stations

The number of ballots at the polling stations is less than the number of voters at many polling stations, as also observed during the 2012 Parliamentary Elections. The Central Election Commission responded to the issue during the day and stated that the amounts of ballots sent to polling stations were determined after subtraction of the voters who are abroad, in prison, serving in military, etc. We double-checked the numbers again and found that the ballots were insufficient despite the number of voters with various statuses on the voters list. However, this was a non-issue as the turnout was rather low.

5. Coordinators of electoral subjects outside the polling stations

Coordinators representing electoral subjects were making notes of voters who showed up at the election outside many polling stations. We have not observed pressure on the voters by them.

6. Agitation in the vicinity of the polling station

Our observers have come across agitation cases outside all  three districts. For instance, on Nadzaladevi Street, people sitting in cars were promoting Soso Manjavidze propaganda-via megaphone. Agitation did not take place directly at the polling station, though the voice of the megaphone reached several polling stations. This mentioned fact is not in contradiction with legal regulations, however it should be considered within the frames of elections reform.

 

Updated on April 29, 2013.

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