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Work on the election list continues

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, March 16
As preparations for the forthcoming local elections continue the deadline for each of the parties checking the voters' lists to present information to the Central Election Commission (CEC) has been extended to April 10, following a request made by the Christian-Democrats at a plenary session of Parliament. Industry Will Save Georgia, one of the parties checking the lists, opposes this.

“Extending the checking will cause the same chaos we saw in 2003 when the voters’ lists were published just the day before the elections and changes in the lists were made on election day itself. Extending the deadline for completing voters’ lists checking will prevent the CEC sending the variations recorded to the regional commissions 60 days before the poll as required, and even if it manages to do this processing them will take plenty of time and cause uncertainties,” Zurab Tkemaladze, leader of Industry Will Save Georgia, told the media on March 15.

Tkemaladze said that the party had already finished its work on the voters’ lists and would no longer participate in this process, which should have ended on March 15. It presented the results of its survey, in which the party had found 5,602 errors in the CEC–published lists. 952 people who live abroad had been included, 167 people on the list were dead, 24 were in prison and 306 people who should have been included in the lists were not.

At the working meeting which discussed the voters' list checking at the CEC on March 15 Juli Giorgadze, the Head of the CEC Press Centre, appealed to all interested parties to undertake this work, stressing that they could send the CEC the results of their own checks to enable the CEC to thoroughly review them. Giorgadze reminded the parties that the CEC lists of February 1, 2010 should be used as their guidline. She said that the CEC made corrections in the list according to data provided by the opposition parties and explained that 19 of the 21 cases of more than 30 people being registered at one address have already been corrected and the non-residents eradicated from the list with the support of the National Agency of Civil Registry.

Political party representatives at this meeting shared their findings and discussed specific cases. “Some new violations have been found since last week and we plan to continue our active cooperations with the CEC on this issue,” Lado Gojadze, representative of the Movement for Fair Georgia at the CEC, stated. Giorgi Akhvlediani from the Christian-Democratic Movement said that all the political parties which have taken the responsibility to check the lists should try hard to deal with all the numerous errors in the voters’ lists. He said that a variety of specific issues still have to be discussed.

Zurab Kharatishvili, Chair of CEC, has challenged all those interested in the voters' lists to actively cooperate with the CEC to ensure it is accurate. “I would like to ask all the political parties who say that there are 1 million fictitious voters in the election list to present at least 1,000 of these and I will resign,”he said on March 12 at a meeting with Giorgi Vashadze, the Head of the National Agency of Civil Registry. “They should address any concerns they have to the CEC and hold consultations with us before they make such announcements in the media in order to prevent any misunderstandings. It’s a genuine concern, but most opposition parties use the situation for their own purposes. Populism means much more to them than the eradication of errors in the voters’ lists,” Kharatishvili added.

Kharatishvili and Vashadze reported the errors which have been already corrected, saying that in the February 1 list they had found 590 cases of more than 100 voters being registered at the same address. “Although the people living at those addresses are not breaking the law, the CEC would like to advise them to fulfil their civic responsibilities and erase those who don’t live there from the list to ensure the fairness of the electoral process,” Kharatishvili stated. Giorgi Vashadze said that the transparency of the elections is the most important issue and this can be achiewved by identifying and correcting all the inaccurancies in list in time. “The National Agency of Civil Registry has been actively participating in the election preparation process. Mistakes in the numbering of buildings made years ago are now causing some problems which haven’t been resolved yet, but we have elaborated a new strategy on this which will be made public in the near future,” Vashadze said, denying that about 150 voters had been registered at one particular address.

The CEC asked all the political parties to send in their results as soon as possible despite the extension of the date for doing so. “We have started working on the lists and will give the public the results when this process is finished. We have created a webpage which will enable interested parties to search for the name of any voter throughout Georgia,” Kakha Kukava, co-leader of the Conservative Party and newly-selected City Council candidate for the Vake district of Tbilisi told The Messenger, adding that none of the proposals of the opposition parties have been introduced into the Election Code yet.