Summary Findings from Human Rights Center Observers in the Second Round of Local Self-Government Elections

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October 30, 2021
Press Release
On October 30, HRC is monitoring the second round of local self-government elections at polling stations in Kutaisi, Telavi, and Rustavi with 9 observers. During the elections, HRC mobile groups covered to the extent possible all of the possible polling stations in these three cities.  The monitoring was carried out in election district N17 of Telavi at four polling stations located in the village of Karajala, populated by ethnic minorities. 
In all three cities, the polling process was conducted mainly in a peaceful and fair environment. The observers have not identified the substantial violations at the polling stations that could have affected the outcome of the election. A large number of observers were mobilized at the polling stations. The observers of the opposition parties were particularly active as following their instructions some technical shortcomings were being immediately eliminated. 
The situation in some polling stations became relatively tense in the last hours of the voting day. The HRC observers drew up 1 complaint and entered 4 comments to the election day logbook. One complaint was also filed with the district election commission. 
At the time being, the HRC observers are monitoring the counting process at polling stations. They will remain at the precincts until the summary protocols are signed. 
In addition to the observers assigned to the polling stations, HRC receives information from the media. It is disturbing that in some polling stations some violent incidents and clashes took place with the representatives of the media accredited to cover the elections having been insulted. In Tbilisi, near polling station N62 of Vazisubani Nika Melia, the opposition candidate for Tbilisi mayor was hit over the head. It is necessary for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to respond promptly to such facts and bring to justice all those who participated in the violence and obstructed journalists.
The Statement of Kakha Kaladze, the incumbent mayor of Tbilisi and the mayoral candidate of Georgian Dream is disturbing. Kaladze actually called on the electioneers and activists of the ruling party to carry on registering the voters in the vicinity of the polling stations. In particular, Kakha Kaladze said: “According to the Georgian legislation, citizens including electioneers and activists of the parties may have lists with photos and may register the voters according to the lists.  This is not a violation and therefore, no one may dare try to create any tension on this ground. I again call on these people, the members of our party, electioneers. Colleagues, you have the right to legally maintain the lists and stay beyond a 100-meter radius [from polling stations], carry on your activities. This is not a problem.”
According to Article 45(12) of the Election Code of Georgia, it is prohibited to physically hinder the movement of a voter appearing to the polls in the polling station or within 100 meters from the polling station, further, no gatherings and registration of voters are allowed on the polling day within 100 meters of the polling station. 
According to HRC, the registration of voters appearing to the polls even beyond the radius of 100 meters from the polling station is still a problem.  Such actions expose control over the expression of the free will of voters and impede the conduct of free and fair elections.
During the monitoring of the October 2, 2021 local elections, HRC identified the cases of voter registration on the polling day (both in the first and second round of the elections) both within 100 meters of the polling station and beyond 100 meters of the polling station. 
Instead of urging the party members to stop the actions hindering the free expression of will by the voters, he as the incumbent mayor of Tbilisi and at the same time, the mayoral candidate encouraged such unlawful actions during the polling process. 
Identified violations and trends
At polling station N39 of Telavi election district N17, a voter flow regulating officer allowed two voters with expired ID cards to enter the polling station, which was noticed by one of the observers and the persons with wrong IDs had to leave the polling station. Regarding this fact, the HRC observer called on the chairperson of the commission to instruct the flow regulating officer to pay more attention to the process so that similar facts would not occur again. In response, the chairperson of the commission and one of the members of the commission, who turned out to be a spouse of the chairperson verbally abused the HRC observer. Due to this incident, the observer wrote a complaint at the polling station and demanded that the chairperson and the member of the commission be held accountable for the action. HRC filed a complaint with the district election commission claiming the same actions against the chairperson and the member of the PEC.    
The HRC observers identified some cases of voter registration by Georgian Dream representatives near polling stations. 
In polling station N3 of Rustavi election district N20, the representative of Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia was writing names and surnames of the voters in his notebook. The observer appealed the fact to the chairperson of the precinct election commission so the chairperson to intervene and stop such registration of voters. The observer entered the comment into the polling day logbook after which the chairperson took measures and eliminated the violation.
In the vicinity of around 100 meters to polling station N4 of Rustavi election district N 20 unidentified persons who did not say their names to the observer also were registering the voters arriving at the polling station. The persons had some lists with them checking the voters approaching the polling station.  The HRC observer took a video, in which the individuals state that they are ordinary voters and have no lists with them.   
In polling stations N83, N5, and N8 of Rustavi election district N20, the observers entered comments to the polling day logbook regarding the fact that a voter registrar was making notes of the registration numbers of the appearing voters on a separate sheet. The observers called on the chairpersons of the election commissions to eliminate the violations after which the registrars stopped to make notes of registration numbers of the voters on a separate sheet.  
A similar action by the registrars resulted in a conflict near polling station N74 of Rustavi election district N20 with the police arresting Giorgi Kapanadze, a member of United National Movement. The conflict at the polling station began after an opposition observer filed a complaint about the violation. Giorgi Kapanadze interfered in support of the observer, however, the police removed him from the polling station. 
According to the HRC observers, the voting booths at the polling stations are arranged in accordance with the new recommendations. Observers see the voter in the booth from the front, however, the observer could not see the casting of a vote on the ballot paper by the voter. Such polling booths are arranged according to the new instructions and aim at prevention so that the voter does not have a possibility of manipulation (like for example taking the ballot paper away or replacing the ballot paper).
HRC provides information to the media throughout the day about the facts and trends of violations observed in various precincts. The executive director of HRC held two briefings during the day on 15:00 and 20:00 at the media center established with the support of the Open Society Foundation. 
The information provided by the observers is also published on the organization's website -, in the online newspaper - in Georgian and English, as well as on the Facebook page -  
The projects of monitoring October 2, 2021 Local Government Elections HRC implements with the support of the Georgian Open Society Foundation and the Black Sea Foundation for Regional Cooperation.