IRI report: serious violations were committed in recent parliamentary elections in Georgia
The International Republican Institute (IRI) has published an interim report on the technical assessment of the parliamentary elections on October 31, 2020.
The organization notes that bribery, pressure on observers and rigging of electoral summaries were identified, and that the elections in Georgia did not meet constitutional requirements.
Citizens’ confidence in the electoral administration has been seriously undermined, the interim report says.
- Georgian NGOs: “The government failed to ensure democratic elections”
- U.S. Embassy in Georgia: electoral irregularities not enough to invalidate results
More highlights include:
● Although the parliamentary elections on October 31 were held in a peaceful atmosphere in accordance with the country’s legislation, violations noted during the pre-election period and on election day negatively affected the credibility of the entire electoral process
● Violations identified by observers include the use of administrative resources, bribery of voters, pressure on voters and observers, rigging of the final summaries of precinct election commissions and a processing of the results that did not meet international standards
● Ahead of the second round of majoritarian elections, scheduled for November 21, 2020, and ongoing negotiations between nine parliamentary opposition parties, the mission’s report offers recommendations to the Georgian government, political parties, civil society and the media to increase confidence in the upcoming elections
● A procedurally flawed tabulation system, which raised suspicions of possible manipulation, further undermined public confidence in the electoral administration and questioned the independence and professionalism of the CEC (especially at lower levels).
The International Republican Institute offers recommendations to the Georgian government and political actors in order to improve the political situation and improve the quality of the second round of elections:
● Ultimately, the new government of Georgia must work on reforms that will ensure that elections are held in a transparent and fair environment
● In addition, there is still time to rectify violations identified by credible observation missions before the second round, scheduled for 21 November
● To find a peaceful solution to the current political crisis, political parties must refrain from harsh rhetoric and urge their supporters to refrain from violence, provocation and pressure
● The parties should engage in constructive dialogue. State institutions responsible for resolving electoral disputes, especially those related to recounts and annulments of election results, should immediately consider complaints
● In areas where there is evidence of fraudulent results and the reliability of the results is questioned, it is necessary to recount the votes and increase stakeholder responsibility
● In the long term, it is necessary to develop an effective monitoring mechanism for the resolution of electoral disputes to ensure a more timely, efficient and transparent resolution of electoral disputes
According to the IRI, the analysis of individual election commission summaries taken from the CEC website revealed a number of violations.
● Final summaries of the precinct election commission show that the number of votes cast exceeds the number of signatures of voters participating in the precinct
● There have been cases where a voter was granted the right to vote in majoritarian elections when he / she belonged to a different majoritarian constituency
● Election commission summaries have been changed without printing, and there were signs of deliberate falsification of the final summaries. It was observed that the district election commissions received the final summaries with arithmetic errors
● The presence of a large number of invalid ballots (10%) in the majority summary protocols; there were cases when the number of voters’ signatures in the tabletop lists did not coincide with the results of the final protocol
The mission said that harassment and pressure on observers both on and after election day was another worrying issue around 31 October.
The organization also suspects that representatives of political parties often registered as journalists in order to be represented in more numbers than allowed at polling stations
● Other violations observed by observers included trends related to the electoral environment: excessive number of party representatives at the polling station, excessive number of party coordinators, both on and off the site
● Evidence of voter bribery
● So-called ‘carousel voting’ schemes and other violations, including pressure on ISFED monitors
● Across the country, 80,819 observers, 46,981 observers from local observation missions and 5,971 media representatives were registered on election day, resulting in a chaotic voting process