Currently, 36 international and 75 domestic observer organizations are registered on the CEC website, with a total of more than 3,000 observers. The registration deadline has not expired yet and the CEC predicts that this number will increase even more.
Due to the pandemic, the last 2020 parliamentary elections were monitored by international missions with limited resources.
- What is the current situation and what do we know at this stage?
- Which organizations and to what extent will observe the October 2, 2021 elections?
When it comes to accurately assessing the quality of this or that election, both in Georgia and abroad, everyone is primarily interested in the findings of international observers. This interest has grown even more in the wake of the controversial, noisy 2020 elections, in the face of still tense political processes in the country and the unilateral annulment of the April 19 agreement – the Charles Michel Agreement – by the Georgian Dream.
Politicians and experts often point out that – the quality of elections is not determined only by the voting day, many things are decided in the pre-election or post-election period, and it is important to observe this whole process as credibly as possible.
OSCE / ODIHR
Unlike last year’s election, the pandemic did not change the mission plans of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
- The mission opened its office on August 26th. A core team of 12 international experts works in Tbilisi;
- On September 2, 30 long-term observers arrived in Georgia and from September 4 they were deployed in different regions of Georgia to assess the pre-election process;
- According to Radio Liberty, on September 29, about 300 short-term observers are expected in Georgia to directly assess the voting and counting processes.
OSCE / ODIHR 2020 Parliamentary Elections “Mission members visited polling stations in only 28 of the 64 municipalities.” Short-term observers could not arrive in Georgia at all.
According to the CEC official website, the OSCE / ODIHR has so far registered only 80 observers.
The OSCE / ODIHR report on the quality of elections is a key guideline for the international community.
Unlike the 2020 election, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the United States will evaluate the October 2 election this year not remotely but on the spot.
However, as RFE / RL was told in the organization, the mission is relatively small this year.
- NDI announced the start of the monitoring group on September 6;
- The team of long-term evaluators includes: 3 analysts, the head of the mission and their Georgian assistants;
- Long-term analysts will work only in Tbilisi and will stay in Georgia until the voting day.
For the 2021 self-government elections, the CEC has registered 9 NDI observers on its website; And the 2017 self-government elections were monitored by 50 observers of the organization.
Radio Liberty was told that, if necessary, the NDI team would also go to the polls on polling day.
The National Democratic Institute remotely monitored the 2020 elections through eight analysts and obtained information, including through local NGOs.
Due to the scarcity, the observer mission is not called a “mission” by the International Republican Institute (IRI) this year either.
As IRI was told by Radio Liberty, due to the development, some restrictions have become necessary for them this year as well.
- The IRI is represented in this election observation process by a 5-member team of long-term analysts;
- The IRI will not be able to work in the regions this year, as it did last year;
The organization told RFE / RL that a team of observers would also go to the polls on polling day, though it was not immediately clear where and in what cases.
IRI was represented by 21 observers in the 2017 self-government elections.
The International Republican Institute had no short-term observers in the 2020 parliamentary elections; And its long-term mission included 5 analysts.
Other international observers
The CEC has already registered 36 international observer organizations, groups, and among them are representatives of embassies operating in Georgia or election commissions from different countries.
Among those registered are:
- Central Election Commission of the Republic of Lithuania – 2 observers;
- Hungarian National Election Office – 2 observers;
- Embassy of Italy – 7 observers;
- Embassy of Japan – 5 observers;
- EU Delegation to Georgia – The number of observers is not specified and RFE / RL has not yet been able to clarify the issue at the embassy;
- US Embassy in Georgia – The number of observers is not specified. We have not been able to find out this issue at the US Embassy at this stage.
At this stage, a total of 170 international observers are registered at the CEC.
However, as Radio Liberty was told in the election administration, after the clarification, the figures will gradually increase.
According to the schedule of election events, the deadline for submitting an application to the CEC is September 25, and the deadline for resolving the issue is September 28.
910 observers from 48 international organizations were registered with the CEC for the October 31, 2020 parliamentary elections, but several hundred observers were unable to arrive in Georgia.
- In the 2017 self-government elections 568 observers from 30 international organizations were registered.
- On the 2018 presidential election 1,163 observers from 58 international organizations were registered.
- On the 2016 parliamentary elections 1,661 observers from 55 international organizations were registered.
In addition to international organizations, up to 2,900 observers from 75 local organizations are registered on the CEC website.
Some of them are a reliable source of information for international partners as well.
According to information provided to Radio Liberty:
- The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) will have more than 1,000 observers throughout Georgia. They will work both directly at the polling stations and on the outer perimeter. ISFED will continue to use the Parallel Number Counting (PVT) methodology.
- The Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) will have a 350-member mission in eight regions of Georgia, including major cities. Observers will work both directly in the polling stations and on the outer perimeter of the polling stations.
- Transparency International Georgia (TI) – 254 observers are registered with the CEC.
According to the CEC schedule, the deadline for local observers to submit the documents required for registration expired on September 22.
However, the relevant election commissions have another 5 days to decide on the registration of a local observer organization, according to the applications already submitted. The deadline for this process is September 27th.