11:32, Monday, 30.11.2020
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Summary evaluation of the 2020 Parliamentary Election Day in Georgia



HRC monitored the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections in seven regions of Georgia – 1. Kakheti – the ethnic minorities inhabited villages of Sagarejo and Akhmeta municipalities; 2. Kvemo Kartli – the ethnic minorities inhabited villages of Gardabani, Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities; 3. Samegrelo – the villages of Zugdidi municipality adjacent to the occupation line; 4. Shida Kartli – the villages of Gori, Khashuri and Kareli municipalities adjacent to the occupation line, and 5-7) Imereti, Adjara and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. 

Besides the 80 CEC accredited observers, the (10) journalists of the online edition of Human Rights Center – humanrights.ge also observed and reported about the election violations in the polling stations. The information provided by the HRC observers and journalists was published on the facebook and Twitter pages of the organization and on the online newspaper www.humanrights.ge in Georgian and English languages; the information was sent to media organizations and interested stakeholders.

To timely inform the society about the findings from the election monitoring, on October 31, Human Rights Center held three press-conferences in the media center of the observation organizations, which was arranged with the support of the Open Society Foundation – Georgia; HRC briefed at 12:00 pm, at 16:00 pm and at 20:30 pm. On November, the HRC held the fourth conclusive briefing in the media center at 12:00 pm on November 1. 

The information published throughout the Election Day is available on the following links:
According to the assessment of the HRC, the 2020 Parliamentary Elections started in peaceful and fair environment. From the early morning, voters were active and there were queues in front of the polling stations. In the second half of the polling day, the situation got tense in several polling stations and violent incidents were observed, which harmed the peaceful and fair election process. HRC’s observers faced obstacles from the side of the PEC chairpersons when they tried to register the complaints. In one of the precincts, the PEC members tried to expel the HRC observer from the precinct. 

After 20:00 pm, when the polling stations were closed for the voters, additional procedural violations were observed during the counting of the ballots, for what the PEC members could not agree with each other and in some precincts the counting process lasted too long – in some of them the process lasted till the next morning. 

The HRC monitors attended the election process from the moment of opening the polling stations up to the end of the counting procedures and the completion of final protocols. The coordinators of the mobile groups of observers ensured that the relevant complaints were lodged to the District Election Commissions. The HRC lawyers, where it is necessary, will take the complaints to the common courts. 

Currently, the HRC lawyers are comparing the final protocols of the observed polling stations with the final protocols from the same precincts uploaded on the CEC website in order to determine whether the protocols, which were signed by the HRC observers, were corrected after the observers received the copies. It is important that all other qualified and impartial observation organizations also compare the copies of the final protocols with their originals uploaded on the CEC website. In parallel to that, final protocols are published in the social network, which are drawn up with blatant violation or are corrected in favor of the ruling party. 

Human Rights Center calls on the CEC to carefully examine the origin of similar protocols as well as the causes of those violations. In parallel to that, the CEC shall continue counting of the votes and publish the results pursuant to the Georgian legislation. The mistakes or violations of the CEC in this process will be adequately responded by the civil society and political subjects and will cause strong protest. On the other hand, it is important that the protest remained within the framework of peaceful protest so that it did not turn into violent incidents.

In accordance with the initial assessment of Human Rights Center, in the polling stations where the organization has deployed its observers, they observed the violations and miscarriages which may not significantly affect the final results of the elections. 

Only in one case, Human Rights Center requested to annul the results from the mobile ballot box in one of the polling stations where because of the violation placement of the ballot paper in the mobile box was questioned. 

However, at the same time, it is important that district and central election commissions had adequate reaction to the observed violations and violent incidents and took lawful measures against the violator PEC members and chairpersons. 

Big part of the election violations observed by the HRC observers during the 2020 Parliamentary Elections are caused by the low qualification of the PEC members that was very common tendency during the recent elections too. Fair remarks and complaints of the HRC observers about the violations and miscarriages of the PEC members and the chairpersons often irritate them and it creates tension and sometimes conflicts. 

Also, Human Rights Center’s monitors again observed the problem, which was many times reported by the observation organizations in previous years too - in the ethnic minority inhabited villages the PEC chairpersons do not know the state language – Georgia for what they cannot properly communicate the observers and voters. 

Like during recent elections, excessive activity and attempt to control the voters by the coordinators and agitators of political parties is still an alarming tendency. Although respective amendments were introduced to the Election Code and the coordinators of the political parties were prohibited to be present within 25 meters distance of the polling stations, HRC will again reflect this problem in its monitoring report and will underline that mobilization of the coordinators of the political parties, particularly of the ruling party Georgian Dream, within and beyond the 25 meters distance from the precincts is one of the main problems on the Election Day. They are counting the voters who have come, make notes in their lists, talk with them and sometimes they conduct agitations. Similar facts, directly or indirectly, hinder the voters to express their free will. 

Another faulty practice is the activity of the representatives of the so-called observation organizations in the polling stations, which are affiliated with the election subjects. Both the ruling and some of the opposition parties, which have sufficient financial and human resources, register groups of their supporters as observation organizations or media companies in the CEC, who then act in the polling stations in accordance with their party interests and instructions. The activity of similar groups discredit the work of the impartial and unbiased observation process. It is a pity that like in the previous years, the activities of similar groups were reflected in the election monitoring reports of Human Rights Center and other local observation organizations – they controlled, oppressed on and agitated with the voters in the vicinities of the polling stations. 

On October 31, HRC observers lodged 19 complaints (4 of them were lodged to the District Election Commissions) and made 71 notes in the logbook. 

The complaints were about such procedural violations, like violation of the marking procedures; handing wrong number of envelopes and/or ballot papers to the voters which resulted into incorrect voting; uncontrolled flow of voters which created chaos in the polling stations; restriction of photo-video shooting for the observers in the precincts; recording the names of the voters by the observers of the political parties; the PEC members artificially increased the numbers of the voters who had arrived at the precincts by 12:00 pm, etc. 

There were instances, when the PEC chairpersons refused to register the complaints and registered them only after the HRC representatives warned them about their possible administrative liability for similar violation. 

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the main challenge of the 2020 Parliamentary Elections was to hold the polling process in safe environment. Regardless the statement of the Central Election Commission that the safety of the voters was ensured in all precincts, the information provided by the monitors and spread in social media, showed that overcrowded polling stations was a serious problem for what the commission members could not ensure the social distancing between them. In the regions, many precincts were located in little spaces and even without voters, they were overcrowded with the PEC members, and stationed observers. As a result, the risk of the spread of the infection was increasing. Another problem was that people entered the precincts without facemasks. There were facts, when the voters did not obey the requests of the observers, PEC members and chairpersons to wear facemasks though they did not have respective medical conclusion that could not wear facemasks because of health problems. The PEC members and observers also demonstrated low civic culture. 

Restriction of the constitutional rights of the voters in the self-isolation was a serious problem. Pursuant to the CEC Decree, the voters, who were in the self-isolation, could vote only if they managed to be registered by October 26. The voters, who had to go to the self-isolation from October 26 to October 31, were deprived of their constitutional right to vote. 

The 2020 Parliamentary Election monitoring projects of Human Rights Center include the observation of both the pre-election period and immediate observation of the polling process on the Election Day.

Stemming from the objectives of the projects, HRC shall monitor the compliance of the Georgian electoral process with international and local standards, facilitate public awareness raising with regard to the current political processes in the regions, and ensure the transparency of the election process in the selected polling stations. 

HRC shall publish a bilingual report on the violations and other findings identified by the observers during the pre-election period and immediately on the Election Day. The report shall reflect the recommendations towards the Central Election Commission, the Parliament of Georgia and relevant agencies. 

The 2020 Parliamentary Elections monitoring projects are implemented by HRC with a support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Black Sea Foundation for Regional Cooperation.  

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