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Main Tendencies Observed during the October 28 Presidential Elections in 2018

31.10.2018

The observers of Human Rights Center monitored the Presidential Elections in Kakheti, Shida Kartli and Kvemo Kartli regions. 25 Monitors of HRC were deployed in the ethnic-minority inhabited villages of Sagarejo and Marneuli municipalities; in Akhmeta municipality – namely in Pankisi Gorge and in the ABL villages in Gori municipality. 

Besides stationed observers, HRC monitored the elections with mobile groups, which were composed of journalists and cameramen of the HRC online newspaper humanrights.ge. Throughout the Election Day, the information about observed violations was collected and processed in the head office and published on the online newspaper of the HRC www.humanrights.ge in Georgian and English languages. The information was sent to media organizations.

HRC observers lodged 2 complaints to the PECs, 1 complaint to the DEC and made several remarks in the logbook in different polling stations. 

One of the complaints of the HRC observer was lodged in Tazakendi village polling station N13 in Marneuli election district N 22, where a voter made a signature in the box of other voter. After the observer’s remark, the voter rushed out of the polling station and did not participate in the elections at all. The registrar refused to make a remark in the box clarifying that the signature was made by unauthorized person.

The second complaint was about the violation observed in the Iormuganlo village precinct N 42 in Sagarejo municipality. HRC observer reported that significant violation was observed during the counting of votes in the precinct. The envelopes, where the ballot papers were placed, were marked by pen. HRC observer lodged a complaint to the PEC and Sagarejo DEC N 11. The complaint of the Center was satisfied and the Sagarejo DEC imposed disciplinary sanction on the commission member - warning.

As reported by HRC monitors, often, PEC members make mistakes, which are promptly improved after their remarks. The violations, which were observed by HRC monitors by now, cannot impact the final results of the elections. However, it is a pity that low qualification of the PEC members is still a challenge for the election administration. Majority of procedural violations made by the PEC members are caused by their low qualification and lack of knowledge of election law rather than the desire to fraud the elections. These problems are particularly frequent in the ethnic-minority inhabited villages, where incompetence of the PEC members often cause tension and sometimes conflicts. Low qualification and lack of knowledge of procedural issues by the PEC members was the problem in the conflict-affected villages of Gori municipality. 

The voters in the ethnic-minority inhabited villages still do not know election procedures and it creates serious problems. In this regard, significant violations were observed in Sagarejo municipality, where, as reported by HRC observers, often voters needed help as they did not know election procedures and rules. Similar situation created disorder. HRC monitors systematically observed similar violations during the past elections. It is essential to take more effective measures to increase knowledge of voters about the election procedures and rules.  
Like during previous elections in Georgia, excessive activity and attempt to control the voters by the coordinators and campaigners of political parties have become an alarming tendency. “Counters of the voters” are deployed in all polling stations and control supporters of the political parties. They count who has come and who has not among those, whom they recorded in advance. They are speaking with the voters and sometimes it has form of direct campaigning.  

The coordinators dissatisfied with the low turnout of the voters call citizens by phones and try to find out the reasons why they had not come to vote. 

In the villages of Iormuganlo and Lambalo in Sagarejo municipality, the coordinators are particularly active to mobilize the voters. They take IDs from the citizens, look for their registration numbers in the voters’ lists and accompany them to the doors of the polling stations, and then shout their registration numbers.  In the Pankisi Gorge, one and the same people were transporting voters from home to the precincts, mostly the passengers were elderly people.

HRC and other observation organizations recommend it is essential to regulate this problem by the election law. Today, the election code does not prohibit presence of coordinators/agitators of the political parties in the vicinities of polling stations that hinders the voters to vote freely. At the same time it is prohibited to impact free will of voters during the elections.

Mobilization of the voters, active control of their arrival in polling stations, examining the IDs and registration numbers in the voters’ lists, phone calls to the citizens who stayed at home – such aggressive forms used by the coordinators and agitators hinder expression of free will during the elections.

At the same time, coordinators and supporters of different political parties often have conflicts in the vicinities of the polling stations that hinders peaceful and fair election environment. 

During the October 28, Presidential Elections, the nongovernmental organizations registered as observation organizations created significant problem as they were supporters of the ruling political party Georgian Dream. HRC monitors observed the facts when representative of those organizations mobilized voters in concrete polling stations. 

Violations and interesting facts in polling stations

4 persons were not found in the election list in Ditsi village polling station N 39 in Gori election district N 32. They are members of one family and always voted in the polling station N 39 during previous elections. This time, they were not on the list.

Particularly large number of coordinators was mobilized nearby the Tkviavi village polling station N 92 and 64-3 in Gori election district N 32. They had posters of the Georgian Dream backed presidential candidate on the cars. Police officers were also deployed nearby those polling stations. 

Representative of the Akhmeta mayor representative in Duisi village Tamar Margoshvili stayed nearby the polling station N 5 in Duisi village since 8 am and was bringing voters by her car. 

Representative of the presidential candidate Davit Bakradze, Akamed Imamkulyev was conducting agitation in favor of Bakradze in Sabirkendi polling station N12 in Marneuli election district N22. He did not get registered in the polling station and the observers gave a remark. He got aggressive and after the HRC observer’s request, Imamkulyev got registered, installed a video-camera and left the polling station. Before leaving, he called on the voters in the precinct to vote for Davit Bakradze.

Fact of bullying was observed in the Iormuganlo village polling station N 42 in Sagarejo election district N 11. An old person, who tried to enter the polling station, was pushed by another voter. After the observer made a remark, the PEC chairperson assisted the voter to enter the polling station but having left the precinct, the person standing outside pushed her again. HRC observer made a note in the logbook. 

In the morning, the lot was not cast in the polling station N 67 in Marneuli election district N 22 and the PEC members had verbally distributed their functions. After the remark of the HRC observer, the lot was cast. 

Two unauthorized persons were in the polling station N 67 in Marneuli election district N 22: defense police officer and a person without a badge, who said that he was observer from the Georgian Dream. After the remark of the HRC observer he was asked to leave the precinct but the defense police officer protested it. Afterwards, some police officers entered the precinct. The HRC observer called on the PEC chairperson to request the police officers to leave the precinct. The police officer got irritated and told the observer that it was not her business. Regardless this incident, the PEC chairperson made the police officer to leave the precinct.

Representatives of the International Observatory of the Advocates and Lawyers brought voters to the Sabirkendi village polling station N 12 in Marneuli election district N 22 by mini-buses, allegedly to vote for the Georgian Dream backed presidential candidate. According to the HRC observer, they brought five groups of different voters throughout the day by mini-bus. HRC observers reported that the International Observatory of Advocates and Lawyers was working in support of the Georgian Dream backed presidential candidate in the polling stations in Gori municipality too. 

HRC monitored the 2018 Presidential Elections in the frame of the project “Monitoring of the 2018 Presidential Elections and ICC Investigation in Georgia,” which is implemented with the financial support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. 

HRC, through monitoring, will evaluate the compliance of the election process with international and local standards; will promote increased public awareness about ongoing political process in the regions and transparency of the election process in the targeted polling stations. 

After the Election Day, Human Rights Center will produce a report on the violations observed during the Election Day in Georgian and English languages. The report will present the recommendations to the CEC, Parliament of Georgia and respective state institutions.  

Human Rights Center 

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