Hungry Commission Members and Commission Chairpersons Angry with Observers in Batumi
Maka Malakmadze, Blog-post from Adjara
I have been observing elections since 2003. I have not missed any elections, though I had to miss it as a voter because being either an observer, or journalist covering the Election Day, I could not vote. I had more responsibility during October 27 Presidential Elections because I was leader of the mobile group of observers in Adjara. Some of our groups were observing elections for the first time.
On the previous day I agreed with the group members to arrive at precincts at 7 am. So, our Election Day started at 6 am. I called each of them to wake up and wished nice day. I also observed the procedures before the polling process started in Batumi Precinct # 91 nearby my house.
I expected the polling process to be conducted without significant violations because of the government’s political will to hold democratic elections. Generally speaking, my expectations came true but still some violations were observed. More likely, those violations were made because of incompetence and lack of knowledge. We observed comic situations too: we met two representatives of Margvelashvili in Precinct # 31 of Khelvachauri DEC that was violation because one election subject could have only one representative in the precinct. When we informed the Commission Chairperson about it, he clarified that he knew about it but could not dismiss one of them because it was cold outside.
Three women in Precinct # 7 in Batumi DEC (according to their badges they represented Democratic Movement – United Georgia) replied to us smiling that their fourth representative Archil was also there, standing at the entrance to the precinct. Presidential Candidate of the UNM Davit Bakradze had two representatives in the same precinct. The PEC Chairperson justified herself by saying that she could not check everybody and observers had to do it.
We did not observe better situation in other precincts either. I visited 22 polling stations throughout the day and presidential candidates had one representative only in three of them. When we made relevant notes in the log book, commission members got irritated. In one precinct, the PEC members even told me and our observer Ketevan Labadze that we were not hungry and could easily write notes in the book. As I found out nobody had cared about the dinner of the commission members. For this or other reason the commission members were particularly aggressive and rude in this precinct.
It is strange that commission members still fill in demonstration protocols with pencils in some precincts (Batumi DEC Precinct # 94). The demonstration protocol was filled in at the Batumi PEC # 35 only by 8:00 pm. Before that, they had not indicated DEC and PEC numbers and number of received ballot papers in it. I was surprised that Commission Members and observers had not noticed a notebook on the ballot box, where United National Movement was written on. Since, agitation in favor of any political subject and bringing emblem or logo of any political subject to the precinct is prohibited, we informed the PEC chairperson about it and the problem was soon eradicated.
By midday, we went to the precincts attached to Batumi DEC but located in the territory of Khelvachauri. Precincts # 87 and 94 are located in the so-called Sharabidzes School. There was a table in the corridor between two precincts located on both sides of the corridor. Papers with lists of voters, their addresses and even telephone numbers of some voters were scattered on the table. There were cross in the boxes of some voters. A boy and a girl were sitting at the table. I was surprised with it but they did not even prohibit us to take photo of the lists; they even said it was list of Georgian Dream’s supporters and they recorded who had come to the precinct and who had not.
I observed vote counting process in the precinct # 35 of Batumi DEC. Everything was done in peaceful environment. Commission Chairperson was loudly praying: “God make formula matched.” And finally the Formula Matched. Soon the vote counting procedures finished. It was Presidential Elections and there was only one ballot paper in the envelope and it was easier to count.
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