On Election Day, Voter Marking
posters encouraging voters to accept voter marking to “protect
their vote from fraud” were prominently displayed in almost all
PECs and DECs. In minority areas the posters were distributed in
either Azeri or Armenian and Russian versions. Even more
carefully displayed was the A2 poster showing the statement of
the spiritual leader of Georgia, Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II.
The Patriarch’s statement clearly says that voter marking is not
against the beliefs of the Georgian Orthodox religion.
According to the results of GEAP
teams monitoring the election and the OSCE/ODIHR International
Election Observation Mission, voter marking was generally
applied correctly and voters were checked for traces of UV ink
prior to entering the precincts. According to the OSCE/ODIHR
findings, voters were rarely or never checked for traces of ink
10% of the time (13% in Jan 2004 elections). Ink was rarely or
never applied 7% of the time (9% in Jan 2004 elections).
Only a small number of voters
refused to be marked for either religious or health reasons. In
these cases most ballots were correctly annulled and voters left
without casting a ballot. However, many voters who at first
refused to be marked were later persuaded to accept marking
after PEC members read the statement of the Patriarch or
dispelled health concerns.
27 MARCH 2004 UPDATE:
Voter Marking materials were
distributed together with other polling materials to DECs on 25
and 26 March 2004. Each DEC received one UV lamp, 8 batteries
and one bottle of UV ink for each 500 voters registered. A
remaining 50% reserve of UV lamps and ink was kept in the DECs.
PECs returned UV lamps and unused ink and batteries to DECs on
25 MARCH 2004 UPDATE:
Upon delivery of the voter marking
materials to the CEC warehouse on 21 March 2004, the OSCE
together with the Logistics team of the CEC inspected the
quantity and quality of the materials and supervised their
storage prior to delivery to the DECs. Distribution to DECs
began on 25 March 2004.
MARCH 2004 UPDATE:
All 945 kg of voter marking materials were shipped by air from
Copenhagen on 12 March 2004 and arrived in Tbilisi on 16 March
2004. A Distribution and Recovery Plan for Voter Marking
materials was drafted by the OSCE and reviewed by the CEC
Observation reports of Voter
Education Projects and PEC/DEC Training indicate that extensive
technical information about voter marking is being disseminated
to both voters and election administration officials. However,
anecdotal observations by trainers of election commission
members suggest that there is still a belief among some
followers of the Orthodox religion that voter “marking” is
incongruous with religious beliefs – particularly in the regions
outside of Tbilisi.
MARCH 2004 UPDATE:
The MoU on Voter Marking was signed on 5 March 2004 between the
OSCE, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Election
Commission. Payment by the Treasury (on behalf of the CEC) to
the Danish Camp Supply will be made on 11 March and shipment of
all materials by air freight is scheduled to arrive in Tbilisi
on 16 March. This arrival date will still give the CEC enough
time for checking of materials and distribution to all DECs.
4 MARCH 2004 UPDATE
During the week of 23-27 February 2004 the
Logistics Cell of the CEC Secretariat awarded the tender of
voter marking materials to Danish Camp Supply (DGS). Two other
local Georgian companies were also contacted, but could not
supply the voter marking materials at a competitive price. The
materials will be procured during the coming week and should
arrive in country in time for distribution to DECs and PECs.
On 1-2 March
2004 Transparency International, IFES Ltd. and Mercy Corps were
contacted in order that they receive 120 sets of voter marking
materials from the CEC for voter education projects. Finally,
110 sets of voter marking materials were distributed along with
detailed training instruction to 109 IFES trainers attending the
PEC/DEC Training of Trainers, from 26 February to 3 March 2004.
24 FEBRUARY 2004 UPDATE:
As part of the OSCE’s and
CEC’s commitment to capacity building, the CEC will be solely
responsible for the tendering, purchase, receipt and
distribution of voter marking materials from a supplier of their
choice. The OSCE’s Election Expert is assisting in this new
initiative and it is expected that a supplier of voter marking
materials will be announced within the week.
The CEC has also issued
an announcement of a competitive tender for the production and
distribution of a new public service announcement and poster for
voter marking. Five local production companies have been
contacted and will submit their proposals on 25 February. Voter
marking remains a controversial part of elections in Georgia and
its successful implementation relies on continued efforts to
11 FEBRUARY 2004 UPDATE:
Negotiations with the CEC on the details of an
agreement for Phase II Parliamentary Elections are being finalised.
The project foresees the provision of sufficient
voter marking material also for Parliamentary Elections, with voter
education and outreach to address possible public reluctance to
Voter marking equipment purchased by donors and
recovered after the 4 January Presidential elections will contribute
to this effort. However, new purchases are necessary to ensure
adequate supplies for the upcoming elections. In addition to
providing funding for new equipment, the Mission will provide
technical expertise to the CEC on the development and broadcasting
of an effective public information campaign and for the development
and co-ordination of an equipment purchase, storage, distribution
and recovery plan.
On 4 January Elections voter marking
was applied thought the country.
On 30 January the GEAP Project Manager visited the CEC warehouse
in order to monitor the final day of recovery of voter marking
materials and identify the number of materials in stock.
Out of 75
districts 69 had returned their voter marking materials
excluding 6 districts from the Autonomous Republic of Ajara. The
latter did not return materials neither after November 2
parliamentary elections nor after January 4
presidential elections. According to the calculations made by
the manager of the CEC warehouse the recovery rate of VM is
three times higher than it was after November 2 parliamentary
Feedback received from the District Chairpersons and the CEC
warehouse indicates that the UV lamps for the November 2
parliamentary elections were more reliable and of better quality.
However, the torch installed on the older UV lamps makes it more
attractive for stealing. Therefore it is recommended to procure UV
lamps of the high quality but without a torch.