GEO

Recommendations by Transparency International Georgia Ahead of Runoff Elections

29 October, 2016

Considering the events following the October 8 parliamentary elections in Georgia, Transparency International Georgia has developed the following recommendations for all parties involved in organizing the election process:

1.As already stated on several occasions, members of many Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) were unqualified to perform their duties. This lack of competence often led to technical problems in the voting process. In some cases, PEC members in regions populated by ethnic minorities did not know the state language, which made it difficult for them to deal with election documents.

Recommendation: PEC members must once again be provided clear explanations about the rules and procedures for conducting elections, including in the form of additional written instructions.

 

2.Following a mass recall of PEC members representing political parties, District Election Commissions (DEC) announced a one-day long competition for recruiting new members. Even though by law vacant positions need to be filled shortly, the selection process has nevertheless raised questions about transparency. For example, 103 PECs in 3 Batumi DECs appointed new members without either the media or election monitoring organizations being able to obtaining any information about the competition. Lack of qualification PEC members is the primary concern here.

Recommendation: Special attention must be paid to the level of qualification of newly selected PEC members. In the future, the Central Election Commission should consider creating a reserve of election officers, which will be used in similar unforeseen circumstances.

 

3.Large numbers of election observers were present on polling stations on the election day. Cases of interference with election observers were identified. There were also cases when representatives of monitoring organizations or media were aggressive towards PEC members and hindered the election process.

Recommendation: On the one hand, election monitoring organizations must be allowed to observe the election process without any interference. On the other hand, monitoring and media organizations must not themselves hinder the election process.

 

4.After the first round of elections, some political party leaders stated that their representatives in PECs were serving the interests of the ruling party and, in some cases, were pressured and / or bribed.

Recommendation: Such statements by party leaders must not be left without a response and relevant authorities must launch investigations into these claims.

 

5.Political parties report that opposition-leaning voters are being pressured and subjected to physical violence. Even though we have been unable to verify most of these statements, some of them do appear to hold some truth.

Recommendation: A prompt and effective investigation must be conducted into these reports and, if confirmed, all perpetrators must be punished to the full extent of the law. For their part, political parties must not disseminate unverified information, for such actions reduce public trust towards them.

 

6.On the election day, physical confrontation took place inside or outside some polling stations, which hindered and, in some cases, disrupted the election process. In case of Marneuli, the police was effective in controlling the situation, while in Zugdidi it did not take measures to prevent violence. In addition, not all persons participating in raiding two polling stations in Zugdidi have been arrested.

Recommendation: Violence must be prevented during elections. The police must defuse tension through investigative measures. In addition, political parties must urge their activists not to provoke tension on the election day.

 

7.Monitoring organizations communicate with all political parties on the election day. The parties provide information on alleged violations, which are then verified by observers. There are cases, however, when such communication becomes improper, especially in the case of opposition parties, when their assessment does not match with that of monitoring organizations.

Recommendation: Political parties must comply with ethical norms when communicating with monitoring organizations.

Author: Transparency International Georgia