TBILISI, DFWatch – 291 471 voters registered in Georgia are currently living abroad, while 26 000 are dead.
These are the main corrections which the state commission working with the voter’s lists have found by going door-to-door and checking 3 483 142 voters.
According to the Central Election Commission, there were registered 3 565 000 voters for the local elections in 2010. The voters lists has frequently been a subject for dispute in Georgia, because the opposition and part of society consider that the list is artificially expanded by inserting different category of citizens and they suspect that the government is using these methods to boost its number of votes.
But several months ago, the government agreed with several opposition parties to set up a commission which would clarify the voters’ list. The commission contains representatives from political parties and non-governmental organizations. But there are no representatives from the opposition coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is currently the main competitor of Saakashvili’s government.
Commission is publicly financed. It has been working for several months to check the voters’ list until August 1.
Mamuka Katsitadze, chair of the commission, presented the results of the commission’s work Tuesday at Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Tbilisi. The Parliament Speaker, representatives of parties and foreign diplomats attended the meeting.
The results of the door-to-door working principle are the following – 3 483 142 voters were presented in this program. From those, precise data were obtained with 2 160 608. Precise actions were made to personal data of 39 426 voters. 25 949 voters are dead, 72 voters are missing in the list, 291 471 are abroad, 132 156 do not live on the registered address, 649 839 are internal migrants and 183 621 weren’t available to contact.
Commission chair Katsitadze says that the voters’ list isn’t only defined by going door-to-door, but the commission has also received data from different state bodies and he says in the next few days this will be calculated and presented to the media. Afterwards, the complete voters’ list will be sent transferred to the CEC.
The chair of the commission will continue to work on the lists during the next month. Until September 1, the commission will study complaints they have received from citizens in order to make the list correct. The complete list will be presented September 15.
“This work will forever end speculations about how weak election lists are in Georgia. It is a step forward to better organize elections in October. The commission hasn’t finished working and I call on them to continue working with all representatives of political parties and NGOs to reflect further corrections in the voters’ list,” Davit Bakradze, Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, said at the meeting.
Levan Vepkhvadze, representative of the opposition Christian Democrats, fears that the results of this commission’s work may not be reflected in the final list.
“This list will only have real meaning if we see it in election districts. Now what the National Movement can do is not to let the exact list into the districts,” Vepkhvadze said.
Irakli Melashvili, chair of Coalition for Freedom of Choice, argues that the work conducted by this commission is very important, but not enough.
He says every person should write an appeal to remove a person in their family who is not on the list but is living abroad. In this case the government will be obliged to get back such a person, if he or she is illegally living there, because last year the country signed an agreement with the EU on readmission, and this agreement contains such an obligation.
“That’s why citizens usually do not write such appeals, not to turn back citizens who illegally live abroad. That’s why I think that from these 291 000, the majority will be those who legally left Georgia. If there won’t be appeals then they cannot indicate that these citizens have left the country,” Melashvili says adding that the number of citizens who left Georgia, will be way much more, but this commission wouldn’t have been able to observe it.
He says this work is really good but considers that it is not enough to finally define the lists and it is necessary to conduct preliminary registration for this, but the government refuses.