Currently available voters’ list includes 3,587,425 citizens eligible to cast ballot in May local elections, according to Central Election Commission (CEC).
Voters’ list has long been one of the major sources of controversy mainly remerging ahead of elections and viewed as a possible tool for manipulating with vote results.
Zurab Kharatishvili, chairman of CEC, said on February 16, that inaccuracies in the current list might be only about 1%, which can be tackled through ongoing re-checking process carried out by the political parties.
GEL 1.2 million (about USD 680,000) was allocated from the state budget to cover political parties’ expenses on re-checking process. The sum was equally distributing among twelve parties, including the ruling party, which are eligible to state funding and which expressed willingness to take part in the process.
As a result a main political burden in fact now rests on these parties to re-check the list and then to report back to CEC inaccuracies, which they may find. The CEC and other government agencies, in particular the civil registry, took the commitment to only correct inaccuracies if the political parties report such in a written form before March 31.
Initial list, submitted by the civil registry to CEC on February 1, consisted of 3,677,795 citizens, including those, who will turn 18 years old by the election day – May 30 (the date has yet to be formally set).
This initial list, according to CEC, was reviewed and as a result about 98,000 entries removed from the list, including about 23,000 citizens who are from Abkhazia, but hold no official status of internally displaced persons (mainly residents of the Gali district fall under this category); 31,000 Georgian citizens, who are living abroad and are registered in Georgian consulate offices in respective countries (citizens living abroad are not eligible to vote in the local elections) and 44,000 deceased persons.
The problem still remains with those citizens in the list, who emigrated from the country, but are not registered in any of the Georgian consulate abroad. Number of these citizens is likely to be much higher than those who are registered at the Georgian consulates. The CEC chairman says that no mechanism has yet been establish to identify such persons in the list.
It also remains unclear for CEC how to tackle the issue of 6,852 voters, who although still remain the list, but are not currently registered to any of the existing addresses.
The issue of these voters, which may turn to be more than just a technical misunderstanding, originates from the May, 2008 parliamentary elections.
The opposition Republican Party alleged shortly before the parliamentary elections two years ago that fake IDs had been issued by the authorities to its activists to allow them multiple voting. It also claimed that after checking the voter list provided by the CEC, the party found cases where dozens of voters were registered in one and the same flat in Tbilisi. Some of these cases, when unusually high number of residents was registered at the same flat, were substantiated by OSCE/ODHIR observation mission.
On February 15 Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party, part of Alliance for Georgia, said that up to 7,000 voters were deregistered from those flats in Tbilisi, where during the parliamentary elections dozens of voters were registered in each of the flat. She said that with this new development, the Republican Party’s allegations voiced two years ago about fake IDs were further validated, which was enough reason for the law enforcement agencies to launch investigation.
CEC chairman, Zurab Kharatishvili, said that 6,852 voters were deregistered upon the notification of flat owners. He declined to give a detailed comment about Khidasheli remarks, citing that he was not aware exactly which case the Republican Party was referring to.
Head of the Civil Registry Agency, Giorgi Vashadze, said on February 16 that the agency was open for cooperation with the opposition parties and called on them to notify the agency as soon as inaccuracies were found.
“We are ready to correct them within three days,” Vashadze said.