Summary of Monitoring of 31 October 2020 Parliamentary Elections
Transparency International Georgia monitored the 31 October 2020 parliamentary elections with some 600 local observers. The analysis of the 170 violations that we recorded and the 46 complaints that we filed makes it clear that the 31 October elections were a step back compared with the 2016 parliamentary elections.
The election day was marked by physical confrontations outside the polling stations, obstruction of the work of observers and journalists, including physical attacks on journalists and damaging of their property, violation of the secrecy of vote in the polling stations, alleged instances of bribing of the voters, and other significant and relatively insignificant violations.
The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) published the initial preliminary election results 7.5 hours after the closing of the polling stations, which represents deterioration of the practice established during the elections over the last eight years and gave the opposition parties a reason to suspect that manipulation had occured in the announcement of the results. The CEC members appointed by the opposition parties protested against this and obstructed the announcement of the results by the CEC Chairwoman.
Alleged Vote Rigging
In Precinct #13.22.65 in Marneuli, our observer detected an individual who voted on at least 10 occasions. The observed was able to record videos of this on three occasions. Transparency International Georgia has requested invalidation of the voting results in this precinct.
Alleged voter bribing
Throughout the day, different sources reported on the handing of money to individuals outside the polling stations. Moreover, the Formula TV station aired a report on alleged voter bribing.
Physical confrontation and obstruction of journalists’ work and assault on journalists
TV Pirveli journalist Ana Akhalaia and Mindia Gabadze, journalists of online media outlet Publika, were injured during the physical confrontation between the activists of different parties in Gldani. The police detained several individuals during the incident. Irakli Kikvadze, the Labour Party’s candidate in the mayoral election in Kutaisi, was beaten. The physical confrontation occurred outside polling stations in Marneuli and Zugdidi.
Obstruction of observers’ work and registration of complaints.
Throughout the day, there were several instances of obstruction of the monitoring organizations’ work. Five individuals physically assaulted our observer outside the Electoral Precinct #12.20.16 in Rustavi. Observers from our organization as well as other organizations were unfairly expelled from several polling stations. Commission secretaries in several precincts refused to accept complaints.
Violation of vote secrecy
Throughout the day, there were cases in multiple polling stations where voters showed their ballots to individuals standing nearby upon exiting the booths. In several polling stations, stationary video cameras were installed too close to the voting booths, creating the danger of control over the voters’ expression of their will. In several cases, commission members and voters took photos of their own ballots after filling them out. In some polling stations, unauthorized individuals followed voters into the voting booths.
According to Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, members of her staff were not allowed to monitor the voting process or speak to the inmates at the penitentiary facility #15.
Problems concerning mobile ballot box
There was a case where the mobile ballot box list did not contain personal numbers of the voters and the commission members added this information manually after the mobile ballot box was brought back to the polling station. The ballots from this box were declared invalid following a complaint.
In one precinct, a person who had been registered in the mobile ballot box list voted both in the polling station and through the mobile ballot box.
Violation of lottery procedure
In some precincts, the lottery required to divide roles among commission members either did not take place at all or did take place but the relevant rules were not followed.
Presence of unauthorized individuals in polling stations
In many precincts, there were cases of unauthorized persons being present in the polling station.
Violation of Covid-19-related safety rules
Throughout the country, there was a pattern of violation of the rules designed to prevent the spread of the covid-19 infection. In multiple polling stations, commission members did not wear protective shields, distancing was often not observed, and the rules of wearing face masks were violated. In the second half of the day and especially during the vote count, even the face masks were often not worn.
Violation of inking rules and voting without IDs
In some precincts, voters were allowed to enter polling stations without inking. In two precincts, voters were allowed to vote without IDs.
Recording of voters inside polling stations
There was a pattern of media organization Newpost’s representatives’ taking photos of all voters inside polling stations and sending them via special software.
Equipment of polling stations
In many precincts, the copiers did not work or there was no copier at all, making it difficult for observers to obtain copies of the vote tally protocols. The Zugdidi district, in particular, stood out in this respect.
Qualifications of commission members
In most precincts, insufficient qualifications of commission members made it difficult to conduct the electoral process according to all relevant rules. This was a problem both during the vote and during the tallying of results.
The problem of balancing vote tally protocols
As in previous elections, calculation of the final balance in the vote tally protocols turned out to be a problem in many precincts.
- The law enforcement bodies must investigate promptly and effectively all cases containing elements of a crime;
- The CEC must ensure the publication of initial preliminary results as promptly as possible in order to avoid questions concerning its work;
- Further improvement of the qualifications of the electoral administration members is necessary;
- Polling stations must be supplied with the necessary equipment in order to ensure that the interested parties face no problems in exercising their rights;
- In order to strengthen the confidence in the electoral process, Georgia’s executive and legislative branches must begin to work toward the introduction of electronic means in the election day procedures.