Shorena Kakabadze’s blog-post from Imereti
“I hope it will be the calmest, most democratic and European elections in the Georgian history,” Georgian Prime-Minister said several days before the Election Day and his prognosis came true. Presidential Election was carried out without any incidents in a very peaceful environment in Georgia. Moreover, the environment was so calm that I felt a bit disappointed for not having chance to spend my energy. I, together with my interns, hoped to observe plenty of violations in 127 polling stations and in one special precinct of Kutaisi DEC as well as in the districts of Imereti region (Samtredia, Bagdati).
In short, we did not have ground to write complaints. It is fact that both voters and PEC members were fully aware that it is high time in Georgia to hold democratic elections. A woman in one of the precincts in Kutaisi noted that finally we live in the period when we can vote for whoever we want and nobody abuses us for that.
Voter, charmed with democratic elections, having arrived at the precinct with old mother (I guess it would have been better to send mobile ballot box to her at home), missed one thing – when her mother was entering the booth, she publicly suggested her whom to vote.
How can we blame voters in violations, when PEC members did not pay attention to shortcomings? In some polling stations, PEC members winked to their friends, relatives and neighbors; it was sort of signal for them and actively “worked”. Representative of one observation organization told them they would rather study their rights and responsibilities than winking each other. I absolutely agreed with this remark. It is fact that Kutaisi DEC had very unqualified personnel.
In one precinct, where I decided to stay till the counting procedures (they had forgotten to seal the ballot paper and 292 voters had dropped ballot papers in the unsealed box), Commission members and chairperson received “suggestions” about election procedures from observers (we could not refuse them to help because otherwise we would have to write a lot of complaints and protocols).
You might argue with me that it was my obligation but I think the result is the most important – elections in this precinct (like in many other ones) were held without serious violations.
Nevertheless, I cannot say that nobody attempted to fraud elections. In one precinct in Kutaisi, employee of the City Hall, who still believes that if United National Movement looses election, the state will fall, unsuccessfully tried to vote twice. Similar facts were observed in other precincts too but after observers interfered, these people were not allowed to vote for the second time.
A young couple arrived at the precinct in Kutaisi. The husband tried to convince his wife during several minutes to vote as she had already come to the precinct. Of course, I got interested why the woman refrained from voting (apart observation mission, I had to implement my professional duty too – I am a journalist) and she replied: “Nobody cares about the decision of ordinary people.” Simply, she was extremely frustrated.
Apparently, like that woman, many people decided that 2013 Presidential Elections would be held without them and by the end of the day, chairman of Kutaisi DEC # 59 Avtandil Osepaishvili told me only 38.65% of voters had taken part in the elections. I was not surprised with it. Observers and commission members complained about low activity of voters in all 127 precincts in Kutaisi all day long.
And in the end, I am extremely happy that organized transportation of voters to election precincts remained in the past like many other election violations. So, in the morning of October 28 I woke up democratically strutted.