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Ruling Party: Biometric Voter Registry Possible Only in Tbilisi
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 9 Mar.'11 / 16:22

The authorities will be able to draw up a voter list based on biometric identification system ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections only in the capital city Tbilisi, senior ruling party lawmakers said on March 9.

The ruling party lawmakers, however, also said that the authorities would be able to do that in case of donors’ funding.

Development of biometric voter registry is one of the key components of the eight opposition parties’ joint proposal based on which they engaged in now ongoing talks with the ruling party on election system reform.

Senior ruling party lawmakers, who participate in the election-related talks with the opposition, convened a press conference to make the announcement less than couple of hours before the start of the inter-party working group’s meeting in the Central Election Commission on March 9.

“According to the assessment by all the election observation missions, the voter list in recent years has been improved and shortcomings [in the voter list] are almost ruled out. So we think, that this issue [of voter list] might not be the most important in respect of electoral environment; but despite of that we are ready to make biometric voter registry as a pilot project in Tbilisi if the funding for that [project] is allocated by the international donor organizations,” Pavle Kublashvili, a ruling party lawmaker and chairman of the parliamentary committee for legal affairs, said at the news conference. 

Another proposal put forth by the eight opposition parties involves use of biometric voter registry on the election day, meaning identifying each voter who turns out at the polling station based on biometric data collected during the drawing up of the voter registry. MP Pavle Kublashvili said use of this system for the next parliamentary elections “is ruled out.”

In other proposal, which the ruling party unveiled on March 9, the authorities plan to lift a ban on independent candidates to run for the majoritarian MP seat in the single-mandate constituency. Currently the election code does not allow an independent candidate to run for the majoritarian MP seat, meaning that a candidate should be nominated by a political party. Although amending this provision has been recommended by OSCE-led international observation mission, the issue has never been pushed for by the opposition.

Other proposal of the ruling party also involves granting the right to vote to those convicts who are sentenced to not more than three years in jail for unintended crimes. Currently persons who are in prison under a final sentence are not entitled to vote, but those in pre-trial detention awaiting trial have the right to vote. But as indicated in the findings of the OSCE-led international observation mission, during the May, 2010 local elections most of the detainees in pre-trial custody were not able to vote allegedly because they did not have ID cards. The mission recommended the authorities to ensure the voting rights of detainees in pre-trial detention by providing them, in due time, with their ID documents.

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