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Key Local Watchdogs Assess Municipal Elections

Key local CSOs, The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), and Transparency International Georgia, issued on October 3 preliminary summaries of their observation on the election day of October 2 local elections. 

ISFED

ISFED, that lodged 260 complaints, said “voting process across the country was, on the whole, conducted in a peaceful environment, in line with the legal requirements. However, certain trends negatively affected the electoral environment.”

The watchdog said inside polling stations their observers recorded violations of the secrecy of the ballot, tracking of voters by unauthorized persons (marking off voters’ names from a list), voting with improper voter identification documents, allowing a voter to cast a ballot without checking for indelible ink, and failure to follow inking procedures before voting.

The CSO said multiple ISFED observers saw their rights violated throughout the day, including during the vote counting process. It said they recorded cases of verbal harassment targeting ISFED observers outside the precincts.

ISFED said the environment outside of some polling stations was problematic, where cases of voter mobilization, tracking/noting of voters and alleged vote buying were observed. The watchdog also observed cases of voters being transported to polling stations.

GYLA

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association observed procedural irregularities throughout election day, noting that “the tense atmosphere in a number of polling stations during the day may have affected both the behavior of voters and the monitoring of the process itself. “

GYLA highlighted the issue of control over the will of the voters. Throughout the day, nearby territories of some polling stations were overcrowded, which created an atmosphere of shadowing during the voting and hindered the voters to freely express their will, the CSO stated.

The wachdog said in some precincts their observers were deprived of an opportunity for monitoring. “Threats, physical and verbal assaults against GYLA`s observers were reported,” noted the CSO, adding that six observers “were expelled from polling stations.” Another observer faced “such pressure” that s/he had to leave, it noted.

GYLA, that filed 130 complaints and remarks, said at District Election Commissions, a tendency of receiving unsealed Election Day record books and ballots from precincts was revealed.

TI Georgia

According to TI Georgia, pre-election and election day environment showed that “the government still lacks the political will to hold elections in line with high-level democratic standards and that the country is still far away from the goals set by the ambitious electoral reform.”

“We still observed the gathering of party coordinators outside many precincts, including within a 100-meter radius inside the polling stations,” the CSO went on, adding that “there were instances of voters casting ballots multiple times, interference in the work of observers, violation of secrecy of vote…, verbal assaults towards journalists, presence of unauthorized persons on the precincts.”

The watchdog said “several instances of individuals casting ballots multiple times in two precincts of Marneuli District and one precinct of Ninotsminda District.” “An observer from the ‘Professional Union of Students and Professional Education and Qualified Workers,’ Tofig Akberov, casted his ballots several times in Marneuli’s 13th precinct,” CSO noted.

TI Georgia suspected that in some precinct election commissions in Zugdidi and Poti, as well as in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo and Nadzaladevi were warned to run the summary protocols through to the district commissions prior to filling them in, that “could be considered as undue interference in the work of the precinct commissions.”

The watchdog said they reported up to 160 insignificant and relatively serious violations, filed 30 complaints, and requested the annulment of results of two Marneuli precincts.

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