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Local Watchdog Group on Local Elections
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 May.'10 / 13:19

Election administration and the government demonstrated “will to conduct fair elections, during both the pre-election period and on election day,” Tbilisi-based election watchdog group, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), said on Monday in its statement on preliminary findings on May 30 local elections.

“However, number of tendencies observed on the election day cast the shadow on positive assessment,” ISFED, which monitored elections at 1,100 precincts throughout the country, said.

The group noted among negative trends “a wide-scale agitation by activists of electoral subjects in areas surrounding polling stations.”

During the first half of election day, groups of activists from the ruling National Movement party were deployed outside many polling stations in Tbilisi and in some other large cities to observe if potential ruling party supporters were turning out at the precinct to cast the ballot. They held list of potential supporters, compiled in advance during the pre-election campaign and marking names of those who were turning out at the polling station; otherwise there have been reported cases, when activists were trying to get in touch with potential supporters via phone asking them to participate in the elections. The ruling party officials said that it was part of its get-out-the-vote efforts and there was nothing illegal in such activity.
 
ISFED said that it was hard to judge what the impact of this kind of campaign was on the express of voters’ free will.

The watchdog group also listed “inadequate qualification” of precinct level election administration employees and logistical problems among negative aspects of the election day.

It also said that cases of significant violations, recorded by ISFED monitors, like hampering observers to enter polling station, pressure and intimidation of observers, voting with ID cards belonging to others, inflated numbers of voters in the supplemental list and more cast ballot papers than the number of signatures in the voters list, “were not wide spread.”

ISFED said that it had lodged total of 46 complaints over various types of electoral violations.

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