Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fraud and Vote Rigging in Georgian Parliamentary Elections?

ISFED’s survey indicates opportunity for “Election Fraud in Georgian Elections"

Potential vote rigging in scheduled Georgian elections, US government funded survey, ISFED, indicates

TBILISI – democracy is alive and well in Georgia, best that money can buy, and based on an earlier survey this year, just over four in ten votes will be in question (41 percent). Many of these votes may not be case by those entitled to case them, as mistakes in the register have provided an windfall for massive vote rigging, and if the poll is to be believed, this will be used to the benefit of the ruling party of President Mikhail Saakashvili and possibly others, even some parties are thought  to be politically supported by other US funded organizations, such as  NED, National Endowment for Democracy, and other outside financial supporters, including high valued US and European lobbying firms. 

Based on the seemingly “official” figures, Georgia has 3,565,000 million registered voters. The total population is recorded as 4,369,000. The question remains, just how many of these people are suspected to have died and are living outside of Georgia proper, which is something that merits serious debate, as even the claims by the quoted survey has not been totally verified by other reliable researchers.

Nonetheless, after carefully studying the voter list, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, a NGO, which has been monitoring the election process in Georgia for years, has started that 41 percent of the registered voters, in other words, 1,460,000 people have been incorrectly included on the list.

Naturally in keeping with “making hay whilst then sun shines” opportunities, a door is open to the illegal casting and counting of these votes, and throwing the election one way or another. Nino Lomjaria, Head of ISFED explains that the organization arrived at this number last fall by examining the public voters lists published in August 2011. The figures are based on a selective survey of list all over Georgia, and have been extrapolated from that sample.

The survey shows that more than 99% of the population, an absolute majority, is registered in the list, so non-registration of votes is not a problem.  Furthermore, the instance of dead voters is still being included on the voters list is also very minor. In fact, they number less than 1% of the registered voters,” Nino Lomjaria says, adding that the main problem is of a different kind.
“When we investigated, in nearly 41% of cases we were unable to find any trace of the registered voter at the address specified, which means that nearly 41% of voters are not living at the addresses at which they are registered on the common list. In 9.1% of these cases, we can definitely say that this is the result of internal migration. In another 6.8% of these cases we can definitely say that the voter is an external migrant, who has gone abroad. In the remaining 25% of such cases we could find no one who knew the registered voter or had any information about where they were. There are also cases in which the flat where a voter is registered at is either closed or empty”, she explains.
The number of improver or illegal registrations is alarming. It is clear, and based on the documented history of election fraud in Georgia, before and after 2003, that this is a potential time bomb. It means that potentially 40-41%, four out of ten votes in the forthcoming parliamentary election could be fraudulently cast, and this does not include the ballot box stuffing and voters voting at many different places, with fake ID that was common in the last election, as documented by the Georgian Human Rights center and other Human Rights Watchdogs.

It is clear that that the government can use this for its advantage, as can other political parties. Those working outside of Georgia can be registered at polling stations with relative ease, and then, someone else can actually vote in their place and even get paid. 

A final question remains, just how many Georgians there actually are in the world, and if the official census is for the purpose of knowing how many citizens there are or the number of votes that can be cast, illegal or otherwise. It is clear, the current government of Georgia has an absolute advantage when it comes to vote rigging and its track record makes the Russians look beginners in their recent presidential election.

It does appear that the upcoming election may have problems, regardless of how many votes will be actually cast for the ruling National Party, or even for those outside funded and supported political parties that can pay the most. Some go as far as to claim that the parliamentary elections of October 2012 will be rigged on the same level as was when Georgia W. Bush was first elected president of the US in the State of Florida, thanks to massive vote rigging.  
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