U.S. Senator Risch: October 2 Polls ‘Incredibly Disappointing’

U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the October 2 local elections in Georgia were “incredibly disappointing and a dramatic departure” from the 2012 parliamentary elections he observed.

The Senator said the international community will “continue to pay close attention” to the October 30 runoffs. Senator Risch called on Georgian authorities to address the issues highlighted by OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, “particularly the violence seen during the election period, and the uneven playing field” for the opposition parties.

“A fair and open election process is the hallmark of robust democracy,” Senator Risch asserted.

Election observers of the OSCE/ODIHR, Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the European Parliament said on October 3 that the local elections, while competitive and technically well administered, were marred by widespread allegations of electoral violations, vote-buying, and an unlevel playing field.

Allegations of misuse of administrative resources, intimidation and pressure, raised concerns about voters’ ability to cast their vote “free of fear of retribution, at odds with OSCE commitments and international standards,” said preliminary conclusions released by the joint observation mission.

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