On the basis of information provided by the GYLA’s monitoring mission as of 9 PM, the organization can state that the polling procedures were proceeding with significant violations in a number of precincts. There was a tense atmosphere during the day, which affected both voter behavior and the possibilities of monitoring of the process. Violence and problems related to free expression of voters’ will are among the leading characteristics of the parliamentary elections of 2020. Added to this is disorganization of precinct election commissions, which made it impossible to enforce the rules issued to contain the pandemic.
The violations were mostly related to incidents of alleged vote buying, interference with the exercise of observers’ powers, interference with the activities of the media, voting by unregistered individuals at precincts, violating of inking rules, and violations related to the mobile box.
At this point, observers of the GYLA’s Election Monitoring Mission have filed 76 complaints in total, including 43 complaints at precinct commissions and 33 – at district commissions.
Below we present a relatively long account of the most important violations observed during the period from 6 MP to 9 PM:
Cases of alleged vote buying:
- At precincts no. 30 and no. 18 of Kareli, as well as no. 21 and no. 39 of Khashuri, the GYLA’s observers identified cases of hand-to-hand transfer of money to voters. In some cases, this happened in a building adjacent to the polling station, and in other cases money was given from a car parked nearby. Voters were given the money after they left the polling station. According to information provided by the observers, supporters of the Georgian Dream presumably participated in the transfer of money.
Interference with the exercise of observers’ powers:
- The GYLA’s mobile observer in the Samgori District was observing the polling procedures all day at various precincts. After the observer detected a violation that involved unlawful processing of personal data by the Newpost media outlet, representatives of the united opposition created a hostile environment for him in all the precincts which he entered after detecting the violation. This substantially hindered the organization’s work in this district. At the same time, the Newpost media outlet continued the unlawful practice;
- At precinct no. 10 in Marneuli, the GYLA’s observer was assaulted physically by the chairperson of the commission, and the observer was not allowed to register a complaint.
Interference with journalistic activities:
- Incidents of interference with journalistic activities were observed in Gldani; in the vicinity of polling stations, unidentified individuals standing near apartment buildings interfered with journalists in filming and called on them to stop filming. Journalists of TV Pirveli were not allowed to enter precinct no. 8 of Telavi (in the village of Karajala), while police officers told them that they would have to go to an interview at the police station, because they were interfering with the commission’s work.
Violation of inking and voting rules:
- At precinct no. 29 in Martvili, the member of the commisison who regulated the flow of voters did not check inking;
- At precinct no. 20 of Gori, commission members inked an individual who was not a voter of this precinct, after which the commission members themselves accompanied the voter to a nearby precinct, where the person cast a vote;
- At precinct no. 10 of Marneuli, voters were allowed to enter the polling place without inking, in connection with which the GYLA has filed complaints;
- At precinct no. 21 of Gardabani, a voter cast a vote both by means of a mobile box and by going to the polling place. The GYLA has filed a complaint at the precinct and district commissions;
- At precinct no. 20 of Kaspi, a voter who was not registered at this precinct cast a vote.
Violations related to the mobile box:
- When the mobile box was returned to precinct no. 47 of Zugdidi, the numbers of used and unused ballot papers did not correspond with the total number of ballot papers that had been taken. The total difference amounted to one ballot paper;
- When arriving at precinct no. 19 in Martvili, the observer found out that commission members who accompanied the mobile box had been given 45 proportional and 45 majoritarian ballot papers in total. When the mobile box was brought back, it turned out that 41 voters had cast a vote by means of the mobile box, while 3 proportional and 3 majoritarian spoiled ballot papers had been brought back to the polling station. Accordingly, one majoritarian and one proportional ballot paper were lost;
- At precinct no. 1 of Shuakhevi, commission members brought an unsealed mobile box; when the GYLA’s observer was writing a complaint, commission members took the box out of the polling place and brought it back already sealed.
The GYLA’s Observation Mission on the polling day
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association has deployed more than 800 observers at district and precinct election commissions across the country for the elections of the Parliament of Georgia of October 31, 2020.
The GYLA will pay a particular attention to the observance of electoral procedures (the process of opening of electoral precincts, voting, and summarization of voting results) as well as monitor the developments unfolding in areas adjacent to polling stations. In connection with revealed violations, the organization will also use the mechanism of strategic litigation in district election commissions and courts.
On Election Day, the GYLA will also operate a hotline number for journalists and media organizations. By calling at the hotline, journalists and media organizations will be able to receive information they are interested in and legal consultation regarding electoral procedures, violations on the polling day, and ways of responding to them.
The hotline number is 577 36 15 20.
The GYLA will hold four press conferences regarding the process of Election Day observation at the NGO Media Center during the day. The press conferences will be held at 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM, and 9 PM. On November 1, the GYLA will evaluate the Election Day and hold a press conference at 12:30 PM.
The GYLA’s monitoring mission of the polling day of the parliamentary elections was made possible with the funding of the embassies of Norway and Great Britain, the EU Delegation to Georgia, and the Open Society Georgia Foundation. The opinions expressed in the statement are those of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and its content may not express the views of the donor organizations.