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Government task force finds no fraud in voter rolls

By Nino Mumladze
Tuesday, December 18
They're making a list and checking it twice
A government task force, making its first report at a December 17 press conference, dismissed allegations from opposition presidential candidates that voter lists have been forged and insisted there is no possibility of election fraud.

Justice Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili, who chairs the task force, said the Civil Registry has been removing names of the deceased from voter rolls when family members bring the issue to the attention of the authorities.

She added that voter lists were “not of crucial importance,” because the process of voting at the ballot box will be “so well-regulated both by legislation and the procedures, there will be no physical opportunity to falsify the elections.”

Opposition candidates have repeatedly voiced concerns that election lists contain irregularities, such as the inclusion of deceased voters, and warn of the possibility of election fraud at the January 5 presidential election.

Acting president Nino Burjanadze announced the creation of the task force on December 12, stating it would “further enhance” the government’s measures to ensure a free and fair presidential election, by taking “rapid reaction” on any proven violations of the election code.

Tkeshelashvili did not completely rule out the possibility of some errors due to the “frequent instances” when village residents fail to notify local Civil Registry offices of mistakes in the voter lists.

However, she reiterated that any citizen, political party or NGO could appeal to the Central Election Commission (CEC) or local election commissions with information proving a listed voter was in fact deceased, and that until December 22 the Civil Registry will update changes to the electronic database daily.

Stressing the government’s “openness” to any “real concern” over election lists, Tkeshelashvili added that even after December 22, the CEC would make changes at the district level right up to the polling day.

The opposition continued to voice their misgivings over the voter lists yesterday. Koba Dzidziguri, head of the United National Council’s Samtredia office and brother of Conservative leader Zviad Dzidziguri, accused local CEC authorities in Samtredia of inflating the actual number of local eligible voters from 37 000 to 46 000 with the inclusion of deceased voters and including some names twice.

Meanwhile the campaign team of business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili filed a complaint with the CEC that voters have not been assigned a personal number, allowing for the possibility of repeat voting, according to the news agency NewsGeorgia.