Composition of election administration, including district and precinct commissions by the Central Election Commission, as well as dealing with complaints remains the main challenge in lead up to the October 28 presidential elections, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) said in its report released on August 30.
“Despite [existing] public trust towards election administration and the results of recent elections, election administration has frequently become the target of criticism during the 2016 parliamentary and the 2017 local elections due to certain shortcomings in its activities,” the report reads.
The document focuses on a wide range of issues, among them recently released audio recordings that prompted the coalition “Strength in Unity”, a presidential campaign platform of ten smaller opposition parties led by the United National Movement (UNM), to accuse the Central Election Commission of collusion with the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to rig the upcoming presidential elections. ISFED said in its report that audio recordings “contains signs of criminal offense” and should be investigated.
ISFED also noted that the organization has been long raising concerns over the rules of composition of election administration. “It is essential to make the process of composing precinct commissions by district commissions transparent, based on clear and distinct criteria of selecting its members,” the document reads.
ISFED also slammed the Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF), claiming that due to “non-binding nature of its recommendations and the lack of monitoring mechanisms”, this format “fails to effectively prevent violations.”
“Instead of discussing violations, election observers frequently become targets of attacks from the commission chairpersons and representatives of various organizations with doubtful reputation,” the document reads.
ISFED called on election administration to ensure a transparent process of selecting members of election commissions and to react adequately to “the facts of illegal election agitation” by public servants on social networks.
The organization also called on political parties to promote the process of holding safe elections and to avoid any unfavorable developments.
The election campaign officially kicked off on August 29. Applications of 35 persons willing to run for presidency have been submitted to the Central Election Commission as of today. Deadline for registration of candidates expires on September 8.