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Electoral Reform Working Group Introduces Draft Amendments

Co-Chairs of the working group on electoral reform, ruling Georgian Dream party MP Shalva Papuashvili and Citizens party MP Vice-Speaker Levan Ioseliani on March 2 initiated draft amendments to the Georgian election code.

The draft amendments envisage introducing the following changes to the Georgian election code:

  • Electronic voter registration and ballot counting will be introduced.
  • Public gatherings within 100 meters of the polling stations, as well as keeping voter records, will be banned.
  • The election administrations will be staffed with 8 independent and 9 party members (one member per party) at both the central and district level.
  • In Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti and Batumi Municipal Assemblies (Sakrebulo) there will be four proportionally elected members per one majoritarian. In the remaining municipalities, there will be two proportionally elected members per one majoritarian.
  • Precinct election commissions will no longer be allowed to draw up an amendment protocol after the ballots are sealed.
  • District election commissions will no longer be allowed to draw up an amendment protocol without opening the documentation and recounting the ballot papers.
  • The deadlines for filing and reviewing complaints will be extended.
  • It will be possible to file an appeal electronically.
  • It will be possible to appeal in court should the Central Election Commission refuse to draw up a violation report.
  • Five precincts each out of the 73 election districts will be recounted randomly, meaning that a total of 365 precincts will be recounted after the elections – 10% of the total.
  • The categories of public servants who are prohibited from participating in pre-election agitation will be expanded.
  • Gathering or using public servants for pre-election agitation will be prohibited.

The draft amendments will be sent to the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for final feedback, MP Ioseliani said.

Georgian Dream MP Shalva Papuashvili said the ruling party is also willing to lower the threshold from the current 5% to 3%, if the major opposition parties lift their boycott and enter the legislature.

Changing the election threshold is currently impossible, as it requires a constitutional majority vote (113 MPs of 150 total), but the GD and the six opposition lawmakers defying the opposition boycott have only 96 mandates in total.

The working group on electoral reform was established to implement the amendments proposed in the memorandum signed by GD and the Citizens party. According to the deal, the draft should have been submitted to Parliament no later than March 1, and should be approved on May 1 at the latest.

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