International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local election watchdog, has strongly criticized the bill initiated by the Central Election Commission and the Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee bypassing a group working on electoral reforms.
In a statement released on January 14, ISFED said that part of the initiated amendments are dangerous for “democratic, free and transparent elections.”
The organization emphasizes that according to the bill:
• Final vote tallies of precinct election commissions (PECs) will be sent to the Central Election Commission (CEC) not directly but through district election commissions;
• Vote-buying will be banned not for the whole election period, but only from the day polling date is announced through the election day;
• Excludes representatives of the media from being appointed as election observers.
ISFED also noted that “part of the electoral amendments profoundly change the principle of transparency of election results” that in turn, contradicts the principle of the Venice Commission on the stability of the electoral law, according to which “amendments to electoral legislation should be discussed at least a year before elections takes place, unless these amendments aim at establishing European election standards and fulfilling the recommendations of international organizations.”
The organization also said that “the problematic part of the proposed amendments completely contradict the reform and electoral procedures that were positively assessed by OSCE/ODIHR and other international organizations in the past.”
• On the Georgian Parliament – to discuss all initiatives on electoral reform in the format of the group working on electoral reform with the involvement of all stakeholders;
• On the Central Election Commission – not to take the steps that will worsen the standards of transparency of electoral procedures, reduce trust towards election administration and increase the risks of manipulation with election results.