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Election list monitoring results presented

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, April 13
The results of the monitoring of voter lists conducting by different political parties and the Central Election Committee were presented by CEC Chair Zurab Kharatishvili, at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel on April 12. The meeting was attended by Georgian media representatives, NGOs and various diplomats.

The deadline for presenting monitoring results to the CEC was April 10. The Christian-Democratic Movement, National Movement, Alliance for Georgia, Industry Will Save Georgia, Movement for Fair Georgia, Georgian Troupe, We Ourselves, Freedom Party, Conservative Party, Way of Georgia, People’s Party, Mamuli, Party of Friendship with People and Patriot's Party conducted this monitoring as did the CEC itself. "The main violations the political parties underlined in their reports are that dead people and Georgians living abroad are still registered, multiple voters are registered in the same apartment, some voters are absent from the list and some are registered twice. We have already discussed the greater part of their reports and investigated a significant number of the violations they have reported. We have found that 95% of the dead people mentioned by the parties only died recently, while the rechecking process was taking place, so they could not have been taken off the list so quickly. We have checked some cases of several people being registered at the same flat, and discovered that some citizens who were claimed to have been excluded from the lists are registered in the regions, so they should not have been in the Tbilisi list, whether they now live in Tbilisi or not,” Kharatishvili said. He added that the CEC has a list of Georgian citizens living abroad which it has checked against data from the Department of Statistics and their number is 157,000.

Kharatishvili also talked about the use of video cameras in polling stations, stating that they would be used only in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. About 950 will be used, one for each polling station in those cities. In 2008 cameras were used in Rustavi, Poti and Marneuli elections as well, but the OSCE and the Venice Commission have recommended that the number of such cameras not be used as they might intimidate voters.

Although opposition parties and NGOs have not been negative towards the present CEC or its Chair they made some comments and recommendations after the meeting. "It was a very interesting meeting, as voters and each Georgian citizen should have appropriate information on what is being done to ensure the elections are held appropriately. I think it would be better however if the number of reports of each type of violation is indicated, for example, how many cases of double registration were claimed. Perhaps the parties gave the CEC such information but the CEC did not include these figures in the presentation. As for cameras, I think that they are still needed, but the most important thing is that political organisations are allowed to see what they record,” Eka Siradze, chair of ISFED (The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy) told The Messenger.

Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Tamar Khidasheli told us that the most significant thing is how the CEC checks the violations reported by the political parties. "It is very interesting that 20 and more voters have been registered at the same flat. Who did this? Such things should be investigated. What will be done about this false registration, and where will those voters wrongly registered be able to vote? As for the cameras I have very clear position. Despite the Venice Commission’s recommendations I think cameras might play a preventive role, especially if their recordings are made public. Under the present law such materials are not made available. We have brought an action against this in the Constitutional Court, but it has not begun to be heard yet," Khidasheli said.

Manana Nachkhebia, from the Alliance for Georgia, told The Messenger that, "we gave a very detailed report to the CEC. For example, we found 38 cases of more than 20 people being registered at the same address when the owners of those properties did not know who those people were or why they had been registered there. This is just one type of violation: we found many others, which we described in detail in our report. When one party can find so many violations in the lists in two weeks, with such small financial resources, why has the Government not managed to correct all the errors in the election lists? As for the CEC and its Chair, at the present moment I have no comment to make about them, as they leave the impression that they have the desire to hold free elections,” Nachkhebia said.