Final Assessment of the 28 October Presidential Elections
According to our observations, the 2018 Presidential elections were held in a largely peaceful environment, without serious violent incidents. Nevertheless, the Election Day showed a new problematic trend related to alleged vote buying and mobilization of voters through inappropriate means.
Our observers reported up to 130 insignificant and relatively serious violations. In total, we filed 12 complaints. The following trends are to be noted:
Active mobilization of voters and alleged instances of vote buying
A large number of coordinators, especially of the presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili, were observed outside of nearly every precinct. Most of them were standing outside with automobiles and people could be observed getting in and getting out of them on a periodic basis. There is a reason to believe that voter buying could be taking place. Outside of six precincts, our observers have witnessed the alleged handing out of money.
Alleged fixing of the elections
In the precinct #94 of Zugdidi #67 district, our observer saw how a commission member responsible for the voting box threw in several envelopes into the box. Our observer, after expressing concerns about this incident, was taken outside by the commission chair and a representative of Salome Zurabishvili and asked not to report this incident. They also promised that this issue would not occur again. Notably, this incident contains elements of violation of criminal law. During the vote count, our suspicions were confirmed further, because the number of ballots retrieved from the ballot box exceeded the total number of voters who participated in elections by one. We requested the nullification of the results of this precinct.
Low qualifications of members of the precinct electoral commissions
As it was the case during previous elections, we observed that a lot of members of PECs lacked necessary qualifications, which in turn resulted in aggressive and unconstructive behavior on their part. Moreover, the unconvincing behavior of the members of PECs caused confusion at the polling stations. There are serious concerns with the qualifications of the members of the PECs and no significant progress has been made in this regard over the years. Apparently, traditional training methods are not effective for the commission members.
Some PECs were unable to handle rudimentary tasks, such as protecting the secrecy of ballot, admitting observers without interference to the precinct, filling out the control sheet, dividing responsibilities by casting of lots, checking the electoral ink marking, etc.
Interference/intimidation against our observers
It is imperative for observers from monitoring organizations to have the necessary conditions for their work. During the election day, there were instances of intimidation and verbal insults against our observers from the commission members.
Issues with the mobile ballot box
In the precinct #3 of Gurjaani #12 district and in the precinct #59 of Kutaisi district #21, one ballot was reported missing when the mobile ballot box returned to the precincts. There were suspicions that these ballots were used for the so-called ‘carousel’ voting
Issues with the voters list
There were issues with voter list in many electoral precincts. A number of voters couldn’t find themselves in the list, while some observed that their dead relatives were still on it.
- The Prosecutor’s Office should investigate the alleged attempt at fixing elections in the #94 precinct of Zugdidi #67 district;
- Political parties should refrain from vote buying;
- The Central Election Commission should take appropriate measures in regard to the low qualification of the commission members;
- The Central Election Commision should ensure favourable conditions for observers and prevent any aggressive behavior by the commission members
- Political parties should refrain from registering and mobilizing their supports through methods that can be perceived as restricting the free expression of will of the voters;
- The Public Service Development Agency should pay more attention to improving the voter list
About the Observation Mission
Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) deployed 350 observers to monitor the October 28 Presidential Elections. Our static observers covered 300 precincts throughout the country. In addition, 45 mobile groups were also involved in the monitoring of this elections.