Knock Knock! Counting Voters

With the parliamentary elections up-coming in autumn, the election legislation and related “headaches” prevail. As in the elections of 2012, this year, too, the talks about election lists have become topical. For the last fifteen years, all governments have counted the number of voters in Georgia. However, each time they failed to determine the exact number. If we take into consideration the amount of money that USAID, OSCE, the European Union and various international funds spend on this, we might even be left with the impression that the world really doesn’t have a bigger priority than to count us and figure out an exact voter list.

Four years of data is enough to illustrate this fact. Before the elections of 2012, there were 3,613.851 voters in Georgia, while a year later, during the presidential elections, there were 3,537.719, meaning that, to all intents and purposes, some 76,132 voters just disappeared. An even more awkward thing happened during the local elections which were held eight months after the presidential elections: the number of voters decreased by as much as 107,971 people to total 3,429.748. In short, since the parliamentary elections the population has decreased by about 184,103. Nobody knows how all these people vanished.

Whether it will be possible to successfully fulfill the titanic mission of humanity in gathering an exact number for the voters in Georgia is as yet unknown. They walk from door to door counting the electorate as they have, in fact, for 15 years now. Nevertheless, they still fail to determine that golden number.

The recent events that took place in Georgian Parliament regarding the autumn 2016 elections suggest that Georgian Dream has apparent plans to take another path. Parliament has already passed a law about the changes in the electoral code, according to which the electoral districts will be united and all districts will have an almost equal number of voters in them. For example, if the biggest electoral district in Kutaisi had 150 thousand voters, while the smallest Kazbegi district had 6,000, and both of them elected just one MP into Parliament – according to the new law, Kutaisi’s electoral district will now have three majoritarians and Kazbegi, together with its neighboring electoral districts, will choose only one.

This seems legit. However, it is unclear how the electoral districts can become equal based on the number of voters, when in fact the exact number of voters is unknown. According to the new law, new majoritarian districts should be formed by June 1st, 2016 and the latest electoral data from CEC should be used to make the relevant changes. However, it is still unclear what the latest data is. It is already becoming apparent that this year as well, walking from door to door and counting will be unavoidable.

As for the upcoming elections, holding them peacefully regardless of who wins has nothing to do with walking from door to door and counting. This depends on what power and resources the political powers hold.

Zaza Jgharkava

11 February 2016 19:28