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Support for Voter Marking

Objective: Provide for greater trust of voters in the elections through elimination of multiple voting by marking of voters throughout all election precincts.

Given the previous lack of accurate lists of voters and public mistrust in the election system, a visible means of preventing multiple voting throughout the country by the use of voter marking is essential for increasing public trust in the election process.


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.



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 29 March.



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.



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 Logistics Team.

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.



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.



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.



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 educate voters.



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.

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 elections.

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.


Project Manager

Ian Smith
Implemented by:
Total Budget
at EUR20,505
Annex 1: Project Description



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OSCE Mission to Georgia • Krtsanisi Govermental Residence No. 5 • Tbilisi, Georgia • Tel./Fax: (+995 32) 910610
• e-mail: pm-ge@osce.org