Georgia: On-Site Technical Election Assistance Project August 10-October 24, 1992
In July 1992, U.S.A.I.D awarded a grant to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to carry out a technical election assistance project for Georgia. With parliamentary elections scheduled for October 11, 1992, IFES sent a pre-election assessment team to Tbilisi from July 28 - August 3 to carry out an analysis of the state of preparations for the forthcoming elections. Copies of the team's report are available from IFES.
One member of the pre-election team, Clive Kimber, a Chief Electoral Officer from the United Kingdom, remained in Georgia after the departure of the other members of the team to work with the Central Electoral Commission on all aspects of election administration. This report covers the work that Clive Kimber carried out with the Central Election Commission for the October 11, 1992 elections.
Following recommendations made by the IFES pre-election assessment team, Mr. Kimber concentrated on specific aspects of the electoral process. These included the voter registration process, training of election officials, distribution of election commodities, the ballot counting process and voter education.
At the end of the project, the IFES Georgia project manager made a series of recommendations concerning the improvement of election administrative procedures for the future. These recommendations included the establishment of a permanently staffed Central Election Commission. Such a Commission should occupy itself between elections primarily with the establishment and maintenance of a permanent voter registry, the design of an election officials' manual and of a voter education program.
Other recommendations concerned the training of all election officials before every election and the provision of more voting booths, or the reduction of the number of voters at each polling station, to speed up the voting process. The counting of the ballots under the complicated Georgian election system took up to ten days and IFES recommends a review of the election system prior to the next elections, or, if the system is retained, the design of counting sheets to assist officials with the process.
On October 11, 1992, Georgians went to the polls and participated in large and peaceful numbers in an election in which the main interest of election officials, political parties and voters was to give Eduard Shevardnadze, former soviet foreign minister, an irrefutable democratic mandate. By giving him this mandate, the Georgian people firmly expect him to act as the national savior, restoring peace and prosperity to the country overnight.
The main task of the newly elected Parliament, where 24 political parties with little in their party programs to distinguish one from another are represented, will be to adopt a constitution under which the next elections in Georgia are scheduled to take place in three years time.
IFES was impressed by the efficiency and enthusiasm of the Georgian election officials, operating under circumstances which the majority of their western colleagues could not begin to imagine. IFES expects that the next elections will take place under more auspicious national circumstances, with greater voter awareness and political party activity.
This election has given Georgia a legitimately elected government once more, after a period of eight months of administration by an appointed state Council. International election observers, including three IFES representatives saw no evidence of, or indeed interest in, the perpetration of fraud in these elections which were mainly perceived as a referendum on Shevardnadze.
However, it is clear that as competition between different political parties increases, unless the technical procedures are tightened up for future elections, the possibility of fraud exists. The IFES recommendations at the end of this report are therefore submitted with the aim of ensuring greater awareness of election procedures by both election officials and voters alike.
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