NGO TI Assesses Presidential Elections

Non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) Georgia has released a final assessment report of the October 28 presidential elections of Georgia, saying the voting process was mainly held in a peaceful environment, without serious violent incidents but revealed some violations too.

“The Election Day showed a new problematic trend related to alleged vote buying and mobilization of voters through inappropriate means. A large number of coordinators, especially of the presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili, were observed outside nearly every precinct. Most of them were standing outside with automobiles and people could be observed getting in and getting out of them on a periodic basis. There is reason to believe that voter buying could have been taking place. Outside six precincts, our observers witnessed the alleged handing out of money,” the statement reads.

The NGO also raised concerns about the alleged fixing of the elections.

“In precinct #94 of Zugdidi #67 district, our observer saw a commission member responsible for the voting box threw several envelopes into the box…This incident contains elements of violation of criminal law. During the vote count, our suspicions were confirmed as the number of ballots retrieved from the ballot box exceeded the total number of voters who participated in elections by one. We requested the nullification of the results of this precinct,” TI says.

The NGO also stressed that there were serious concerns regarding the qualification of the members of the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) and no significant progress has been made in this regard over the years.

“Some PECs were unable to handle rudimentary tasks, such as protecting the secrecy of ballots, admitting observers without interference to the precinct, filling out the control sheet, dividing responsibilities by casting of lots, checking the electoral ink marking, etc,” the assessment reads.

The NGO called on the Central Election Commission to take appropriate measures in regard to the low qualification of the commission members and to ensure favorable conditions for observers and prevent any aggressive behavior by the commission members.

It also addressed the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the alleged attempt of fixing elections.

TI called on the political parties to refrain from vote-buying and from registering and mobilizing their supporters through methods that can be perceived as restricting the free expression of will of the voters.

Transparency International Georgia deployed 350 observers to monitor the elections. Its static observers covered 300 precincts throughout the country. In addition, 45 mobile groups were also involved in monitoring the elections.

The final results of the elections, published by the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) shows that the GD-backed presidential candidate, Salome Zurabishvili is leading with 38.64% of votes, followed by the United Opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze - 37.74%.

The runoff will be held in Georgia on December 2.

By Thea Morrison

Related stories:

Laima Liucija Andrikiene on Statements About Election Observer Organizations

Kakha Kaladze on the First Round of the Election

CEC Completes Vote Count

United Opposition Candidate Gets Majority of Votes Abroad

30 October 2018 09:54