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NGOs release assessment reports on 2020 parliamentary elections in Georgia

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, November 3
The Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) has counted votes in all electoral precincts of the October 31 Parliamentary Election. As the results indicate, the Georgian Dream has claimed victory, however, opposition parties that surpassed the one percent election threshold consider the results illegitimate and demand to repeat elections. While many international partners and organizations positively assess the conduction process of the elections, Georgian NGOs believe that the 2020 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia were accompanied by many shortcomings. NGOs have published reports where they assess the elections and focus on the violations that have been detected on October 31.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) reports that the final turnout was 56.7%, which is higher than the 2016 parliamentary elections when the turnout was 52.9%. As the report suggests, no unauthorized persons were present at 99.8% of polling stations while counting votes. At 99.3% of the polling stations, the process of vote counting and result announcement was carried out transparently.

According to ISFED’s report, based on the analysis of information obtained through Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT), which is a methodology used by the organization during Election Day observation of the Parliamentary Elections, the tendency of mismatches in the summary protocols has been observed. In particular, such violations when the number of ballot papers cast exceeded the number of signatures in the voters' list. According to ISFED, such violations were reported at 8% of polling stations. The organization believes that to increase credibility towards the electoral process, the CEC should recount the results of these polling stations (8%) in the presence of all parties interested.

Along with the tendency of vote mismatch, ISFED has detected the following violations: Pressuring observers and restriction of their rights; failure to hand out summary protocols; correction of summary protocols; insufficient validation information on summary protocols; inaccurate filling in of summary protocols; unreasonable annulment of ballots; violations related to voters list; improper validation of electoral documentation.

According to the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association’s (GYLA) assessment report, GYLA observed the 2020 Parliamentary Elections with more than 800 observers countrywide. The mission covered a total of 2250 polling stations (out of 3847).

GYLA pays attention to the negative tendencies revealed on election day, which are a related violation of the principle of secrecy, violation of inking, and voting rules (double voting). GYLA’s observers also revealed violations, which are related to mobile ballot boxes and movement of unauthorized persons on the polling station territory.

According to GYLA, there were facts of aggression and physical abuse towards their observers. As the report reads, in some cases, observers were not allowed to make notes in the record book and register a complaint and two observers were even forced to leave the precinct. There were also cases of insulting journalists and obstruction of their activities.

Another report was published by Transparency International Georgia (TI) who monitored the elections with about 600 local observers. According to TI, the analysis of 170 violations that they had recorded and 46 complaints that had been filed, “makes it clear that the 31 October elections were a step back compared with the 2016 parliamentary elections.”

As TI reports, the fact that CEC published preliminary election results 7.5 hours after the closing of the polling stations, is a deterioration of the practice established during the elections over the last eight years, which “gave the opposition parties a reason to suspect that manipulation had occurred in the announcement of the results.”

According to TI, in one of the precincts in Marneuli, an individual has been detected who cast his vote at least ten times. The organization has requested invalidation of the voting results in this precinct.

Similar to ISFED’s report, TI mentions the tendency of mismatching in the summary protocol, as well. TI also reports about facts of alleged voter bribing, physical confrontation, and obstruction of journalists’ work and assault on journalists, obstruction of observers’ work and registration of complaints, Violation of vote secrecy, presence of unauthorized individuals in polling stations, Violation of Covid-19-related safety rules, etc.

According to the results of Georgia’s 10th parliamentary elections, nine parties have managed to cross the one percent threshold. The ruling Georgian Dream party has received 61 mandates, United National Movement - 34 mandates, European Georgia - 4 mandates + one undistributed mandate, Strategy Agmashenebeli - 4 mandates, Lelo - 4 mandates, Alliance of Patriots - 4 mandates, Girchi - 3 mandates + one undistributed mandate, Aleko Elisashvili Citizens - 1 mandate + 1 undistributed mandate, Shalva Natelashvili - 1 mandate.