Report from the Georgian parliamentary election 8. October 2016
The Norwegian student organization EDDA (European Dialogue and Democracy Association) successfully completed their first Election Observation Mission (EOM) in the Republic of Georgia for the 2016 parliamentary election. This was done in collaboration with the Danish organization Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy (SILBA). A delegation of 11 short-term observers (STOs) covered 35 polling stations in 2 districts in Tbilisi during election day. Since the EOM was short-termed, this report is solely based of the sightings of our observers on election day and not on preparations or electoral campaigns.
The STOs arrived in Tbilisi five days prior to the election to meet with relevant organizations and learn about the Georgian political landscape. The STOs received sufficient training in terms of an OSCE E-learning course prior to the EOM, as well as a specific seminar on live coding for the observations throughout the day using appropriate survey tools, such as a simplified version of the observation forms used by the OSCE.
All observation teams were present at an opening and closing of a polling station, where the latter was chosen based on irregularities which had been noticed during the day. EDDA’s teams consisted of two Norwegian STOs and a Georgian translator.
Overall it is the impression of EDDA that the election was peacefully executed according to the Election Code and common procedure. Our STOs evaluated 67,6 % of the polling stations positively and 32,4 % less positively. In 61,8 % of the PS there were a sufficient number of PSOs present. However, there were observed some irregularities, which will hereby be addressed:
- Some polling stations lacked adequate voting information, where the party lists were not visible or written incorrectly.
- Cameras were seen at some polling stations, where in two instances they were directed at the polling booth
- Some polling stations were overcrowded
- Some ballot boxes were not sealed properly
- There were cases of family voting
- Most of the polling stations were hardly accessible for disabled persons.
- At one PS there was a general problem for refugees voting because of lack of ID or uncertainty about what was considered valid IDs, despite the fact that the precinct had a majority of refugees from Abkhazi.
- At one PS the observers got the impression that there were representatives from a political party present who were impacting the PS, the PSO’s and the general atmosphere.
- At some PS there where partisan and non-partisan observers actively participated in the debates of the PSO, as well as the voting process in general.
- At many of the stations, especially young men were standing at the entrance and several of them called themselves observers from different organizations, but without wearing any observer ID.
- Supporters of political parties and accredited observers were present in very high numbers.
The opening and closing procedures were carried out without intended irregularities and were generally well conducted. However, the opening of one polling stations were delayed and there were unauthorized local officials present at another. The closing procedures overall went well, but due to counting errors and inefficiency most of them took an unusual amount of time. There were also some tension within and outside the polling station during the counting of the votes.
Generally, the election procedures were mostly in concordance with international standards. Most of the irregularities we have observed we find are due to lack of experience and training in electoral processes. The report will be available for the public on EDDAs Facebook page.