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Removed voters are to take part in elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 24
The voters, who were removed from the residence registration, or whose registration had been declared invalid, will be able to participate in the upcoming presidential elections on October 27, 2013. There are about 90,000 such voters in Georgia

The issue of removed voters due to their incorrect registered address has been raised by NGOs and political parties several times. According to them the voters should be able to take part in the presidential elections especially when their number is so significant.

Draft amendments to the election law have already been submitted to the parliament.

Based on the proposed changes, those voters who were removed from the election lists will be able to participate in the elections if they register based on their real living address including October 10 of 2013. They will also be able to take free ID cards if they request the card together with registering desire.

The draft will be discussed in the parliament in an accelerated regime together with some new changes in the election code.

According to the chairman of the Inter-Faction Group on Election Issues, Zakaria Kutsnashvili, the changes concern the abolishment of existing restrictions in activity of the parties and issues of reimbursement of extra costs grounded.

“The permitted amount of income of the parties will increase to 300, 000 GEL. The right of donations will be granted back to the legal entities registered in Georgia under the conditions that the ultimate beneficiaries are citizens of Georgia,” Kutsnashvili said, and added that the new restrictions will be established against political corruption: the donor should not be a legal entity, gaining more than 15% of actual income by simplified state purchases. The donor should not be the legal entity, the partner of which is the state or local authority. According to the chairman, the total amount of donations by the citizens per year should not exceed 60, 000 GEL and 120, 000 GEL from legal entity.

Kutsnashvili said that the funding threshold for the parties will decrease to 3%. The amount from the budget will be conveyed to the party, overriding the 3% threshold in the last elections. The changes entitled the party to apply for the loan in the amount of 1 million GEL. The amount of the permitted costs should not exceed 0.1% of GDP.

“In order to facilitate the political the involvement of women, the party will gain an extra 30% of funding,” Kutsnashvili emphasized.

Some changes concern audit service activity: audit service, in order to hold extraordinary audit, shall appeal to the court. The state audit service will publish the party financial declaration on the web-page within the term of 5 days upon receipt. The chairman also noted that the penalty for hiding the donation, prohibited under legislation, will decrease to two-fold amount. The penalty of 500 GEL for failure to submit the information to the audit service shall decrease by 100 GEL for the physical entity and 2000 GEL for legal entity. The candidate gaining more than 10% of votes in the presidential election, shall be reimbursed for the costs of 1, 000, 000 GEL.

Opposition has remarks concerning the changes. According to them, the majority and the opposition elaborated a common memorandum regarding the changes. However, the draft has not been initiated to the parliament. The opposition still demands a meeting with the Prime Minister and discussing the changes together with the majority for the changes to be acceptable for all the interested sides. Political parties’ financing issues seem the most controversial for the opposition. NGOs have appealed the majority to continue collaboration with the opposition over the changes in the election legislation.