Local Election Watchdogs Point at ‘Control of Voters’ Free Will’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Oct.'17 / 18:30

Three local election watchdogs, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the Transparency International Georgia, said that the voting process during the October 21 municipal elections was held peacefully without major incidents and shortcomings. 
 
Among identified violations, GYLA, ISFED and TI focused on the facts of undue communication with election commission members, low qualification of election administration representatives, restriction of observers’ rights and interference with journalists’ activities. The local election watchdogs also pointed at various procedural violations.      
 
According to ISFED, most violations occurred in Marneuli Municipality, including facts of inadequate handling of electoral documentation, improper checks of inking, restriction of observers’ rights, as well as illegal suspension of voting procedures.
 
The three election watchdogs emphasized on the “control of voters’ free will,” saying that political subjects, mainly the representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia, were standing near the registration tables or next to queue supervisors and were copying the personal identity data of voters.
 
“Throughout the day it became clear that political subjects were interested not in estimating the number of visiting voters, but also in their identity, to identify the absent voters. A number of our observers have confirmed that after the party representatives have copied the identities of voters, outside the polling station - the party coordinators discussed the identities of absent voters and mobilized them to vote,” GYLA said.
 
During the Election Day, ISFED and Transparency International Georgia called on the Central Election Commission (CEC) several times to react to the problem of voter registration.
 
CEC Chairperson Tamar Zhvania explained at a news briefing on October 22 that voter registration is a normal practice and the political parties had a right to do so. “If any facts of influence on voters take place, that will represent a problem, and not the fact itself that the voter recording is underway,” Zhvania said.
 
As of 6pm, October 23, 450 complaints were filed to CEC with 98 complaints filed by ISFED, 91 complaints – by GYLA and one complaint – by the Transparency International Georgia.

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