Election procedures broken in Bolnisi region
The Central Election Commission of Georgia noted more than 600 instances of election tampering and other violations during Georgia’s October 8th parliamentary elections.
Of these, 116 came entirely from the region of Bolnisi, where on election day, a number of individuals were charged with the task of bussing voters to and from voting stations, and encouraging them to vote for particular parties.
One of these individuals, Pervaz Selimov, whose name has been changed for purposes of anonymity, bussed voters to Zveli Kves’ 20th voting district. He claims he was also responsible for checking of the last names of voters in the precinct, and allowed in individuals who were not from the region, nor were their names on the list.
“I helped move and bus about 600 people. Authorities from party No. 41 (Georgian Dream) provided us with cars. I got people together so that the could vote for our deserving candidate.”
Other infractions included individuals who actively engaged and requested voters at the station to vote for specific parties. Many voters reported being urged by such “agitators”, as they call themselves.
Alide Jabbarova says that woman are pressured by their husbands to vote for certain parties as well.
“I voted as my husband told me to. We can’t defy the government and vote for the opposition. We don’t have access to water. My husband told me to vote, otherwise they’d do away with our water supply system and pump it out…”
Observers noted other violations. An observer for Bolnisi voting district No. 22, Ivane Kalidze, noted that many individuals were able to vote without their passports or identification cards. He says, “There is a list of voters posted outside, and they just wrote down the numbers off the list onto a piece of paper, came in, handed it over, and voted. About three people voted without an ID card. When we complained to the chairman of the precinct, there was no reaction from him.”
At precinct No. 20, when two people went into a voting booth together, neither the chairman nor security stopped them.
The chairman of the precinct, Baheddin Bayramov, responded to questions related to the observers’ complaints. He said the voting in his precinct was transparent, and that those complaints could be considered slander.
“We are conducting a fully transparent election. We have 1356 eligible voters in this precinct. We handed out ballot papers to 1100 individuals. So there can’t be any wrongdoing or misunderstanding.”
Turkan Gulahmedova, an observer from the United National Movement party, was at polling station No. 18 in Bolnisi, in the village of Senebi. She was intimidated because she complained about law violations.
“They carried the box out, saying it was for an invalid. By law, an observer should go with them. I wanted to go with them, but they didn’t let me. I complained and called the CEC hotline. Other members of the precinct threatened me, saying I could have problems even after the election.”
Samira Ismayilova, the United National Movement candidate for Bolnisi, says the monitors were subjected to serious harassment.
“I’ve seen our posters ripped up and young campaigners beaten up on the eve of the elections. Today, the same thing happened. Ballot discrepancies were also noted in districts where I had put forward my candidacy. When the observers complained, they were kicked out. In addition, precinct members pushed voters to choose the candidate from the No. 41 Party, Georgian Dream. They didn’t allow cameras.
Bolnisi district committee for polling station No. 23 says there have been no violations of the law in their precincts. There was 68-70% voter turnout in Bolnisi.
Thirty international organizations observed the parliamentary elections in Georgia.
Nesan Londaridze of the Human Rights Center coordinated election observations in Bolnisi. She said she saw various irregularities on election day.
“There are a few facts; but I want to tell you about the violation that happened in Zveli Kves village in Bolnisi at precinct No. 20. When the observers went to lunch, the doors were closed and for about ten minutes, security wouldn’t let anyone come in, because it was lunch time. Legally, this is unacceptable. We’ve complained to the CEC about it. Also, there were people who entered the polling station without their hands being checked with a black light and were allowed to vote.”
The CEC of Georgia and other international organizations and observers had a total of more than 600 complaints reported. Bolnisi accounted for 116 of these complaints. The organization said they had begun investigations for each recorded violation.
Georgia’s parliamentary election results show the Georgian Dream Party in first place at 53.42% and the United National Movement Party in second place with 24.68% of the votes.