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NDI says Georgian elections were free

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, October 11
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) released statement according to which the parliamentary elections in Georgia were held in free environment.

According to the statement, citizens were able to cast their votes freely, and in most places counting proceeded in a calm and orderly manner.

“In some electoral precincts, counting was disrupted or terminated by unruly and, in some cases, violent crowds,” reads the statement.

As the statement reads, the day started smoothly. The vast majority of Georgian voters, poll workers, party activists, and candidates demonstrated their commitment to democracy by participating peacefully in the election process.

According to the statement, the NDI observed a voting process that included minor violations but polling station officials largely worked diligently over long hours to organize and execute proper election procedures.

“However, as the evening progressed, the situation deteriorated in some areas. In several precincts, the counting process was disrupted by clashes at polling stations and a demonstration outside the Central Election Commission (CEC) overnight,” reads the statement.

According to the NDI, the clashes detracted from the democratic contributions of the many Georgians who had voted and administered polling stations in good faith earlier in the day. With the exception of some districts where the counting was particularly problematic, the issues did not appear to interfere with the national outcome though they may affect some majoritarian races.

“It will now be incumbent upon all government officials, election administrators, parties, candidates, and NGOs to allay tensions. All sides should refrain from further violence,” stated the NDI.

According to the NDI, the election results were confirmed as valid by credible observers, such as the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) PVT, and should be accepted.

“Political parties should document any grievances and complaints and seek redress through established legal complaint mechanisms. The CEC should immediately address the irregularities in and disruption of the counting to determine, where needed, the possibility of recounts or reruns, particularly in those majoritarian races where the outcome could be affected,” reads the statement.

Members of the NDI delegation included former ambassadors and parliamentarians, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and regional specialists from eleven countries.

They visited more than 80 polling stations in ten regions across the country.

The delegation was led by former U.S. senator from Delaware and NDI board member Ted Kaufman, former U.S. representative from Connecticut and a member of the NDI board Sam Gejdenson, former Polish minister of defense and former vice president of the European Parliament Janusz Onyskiewicz, a Belgian minister of state and former member of the European Parliament Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, NDI’s regional director for Eurasia Laura Jewett and senior director of the National Democratic Institute’s office in Tbilisi, Laura Thornton.