CEC Reacts to “Ballot box in your city” Campaign

On December 19, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia issued a statement on the recent calls for the creation of ballot boxes for Georgian citizens living abroad and the related petitions, saying that they could not have any legal consequences as the Electoral Code of Georgia does not provide for such a procedure and that CEC establishes the polling stations on the basis of the data provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In response, the allied parties Girchi-More Freedom and Droa announced that Georgians abroad are indeed sending the petitions to both the CEC and the Georgian Foreign Ministry, and pledged to continue the “Ballot Box in Your City” campaign, which aims to get Georgians abroad to vote in the October 2024 parliamentary elections.

On November 28, the allied “Girchi-More Freedom” and “Droa” parties announced a “Ballot Box in Your City” campaign, calling on Georgian citizens abroad to request the opening of polling stations in cities where there is no Georgian consulate. At the briefing of “Girchi-More Freedom” and “Droa” on December 19, the leaders said that the collection of signatures to open polling stations abroad is underway in 42 cities abroad and has been completed in three cities.

CEC Statement

The CEC said that the ongoing appeals already seem to be turning into a campaign, and “the misinterpretation of the issue may harm the electoral environment and mislead voters”.

It said that it is committed to the participation of the largest number of Georgian citizens, both inside and outside the country, in the elections, which is confirmed by the information campaigns launched by the CEC.

However, the CEC stated that it opens the polling stations abroad only on the basis of the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. The CEC also noted that the polling stations abroad can be opened no later than 30 days before the election day for a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 3000 people.

According to the CEC, the general list of voters will be drawn up on the basis of information provided by the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on persons who are on a consular register abroad. There is also a special list of voters, which is drawn up for people who are registered abroad but are not on a consular register, and also for people who are neither registered abroad nor on a consular register, but who will register at the district election commission, at the Georgian diplomatic mission abroad or at the Georgian consulate no later than 19 days before the elections.

“We appeal to all parties involved to respect and follow the election procedures, not to mislead voters for political purposes and not to damage the election environment,” – said the CEC statement.

Allied Parties Girchi-More Freedom-Droa” Response

On December 20, the allied political parties “Girchi-More Freedom” and “Droa” responded to the CEC with their joint statement, stressing that the CEC in its statement confirmed its obligation, in accordance with the Georgian Electoral Code, to open a polling station abroad for at least 50 voters and that in its official statement, the CEC used exactly the same legal norm that the “Girchi-More Freedom” and “Droa” parties are using to ensure the participation of immigrants in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The allied opposition parties also said that they had been aware of the need for the MFA’s involvement in the process since the beginning of the campaign and that “this is why our compatriots living abroad are sending an appeal not only to the CEC, but also to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.

The opposition parties also regret that although the CEC acknowledges its “direct responsibility to ensure the participation of our compatriots outside the country’s borders in the 2024 parliamentary elections” its actions “contradict the mission announced by the organization itself.” Noting that that since December 5 it has been possible to mobilize Georgian emigrants in 44 cities in 9 countries of the world, “which indicates their high motivation to participate in the 2024 parliamentary elections” Girchi-More Fredom and Droa express regret that CEC is not involved in the efforts to facilitate the voting for the Georgians abroad.

They noted: “Against this background, it remains unclear why we, and not the CEC itself, are conducting this campaign” and pledge to continue the “Ballot box in your city” campaign “with more enthusiasm and energy”, calling on Georgian immigrants to participate as much as possible in next year’s elections.

Also Read:

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


Back to top button