The Territorial Electoral Commissions Were Not Independent

The Lawyers Representing the Observers Allege that the Territorial Electoral Commissions Were Not Independent

The Administrative Court continues the examination of the complaints filed by the observers and organizations having monitored the 2 April 2017 parliamentary elections in the framework of the Citizen Observer Initiative. The observers and observation organizations seek to rulings of the court recognizing the actions or inaction of the chairperson(s) of precinct electoral commission(s), the decision(s) of the relevant territorial electoral commission(s) and the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) as unlawful, as a result of which the objective and subjective electoral rights of the observers had been violated. The Administrative Court has already pronouncedits judgments in two cases, granting the claims in part.

Incidentally, although the Initiative had submitted 96 complaints, only 63 of them had been declared admissible initially. 28 inadmissibility decisions of the first instance court were appealed, of which 25were granted, which means that 25 more cases will be examined by the Administrative Court.

The violations underlying the complaints filed by the Initiative are diverse ranging from violations of both subjective electoral rights(violations of observers’ rights, pressure on observers, failure to supply the observers with the relevant documentation, obstruction of the right to video-and/or audio record the proceedings) and objective electoral rights (violation of the rights of media representatives, proxies and electoral commission members; failure to adequately furnish the voting room; presence of campaign materials in the polling station; camera failures; violation of the order of rotation of PEC members; technical equipment failures; multiple voting or attempt at multiple voting; incompliance between the lists produced by the technical equipment and the signed voter lists; absence of personal data from voter lists; unstamped printouts; ballot boxes with no seals; presence of unauthorized people in polling stations; cases of deprivation of the right to vote; presence of candidates at the polling station during the process of voting; bringing of ballots or other items from outside or taking them out; overcrowding in and around polling stations; violations of the procedure of assisted voting; directed voting; violation of the secrecy of the vote/ open voting; signing instead of others; loss of the seal; sticking the self-sticking stamp on more than one ballot; registration of voting results in the final protocol with pencil; violation of the voting process through mobile box; falsification of results; violation of the summarization procedures; breaches of the procedure of declaring ballots invalid; incompliance between the numbers on printouts and signed voter lists; receptions in polling stations; address-related problems; electricity cuts in polling stations during vote count).

The lawyers representing the observersalso raise the issue of the absence of independence of territorial electoral commissions and their dependence on the Central Electoral Commission.They allege that the decisions of Territorial Electoral Commissions were produced on the basis of templatesdeveloped by the Central Electoral Commission, and these decisions were basically identical.For instance, after publicizing its decisions the Territorial Electoral Commission N30 posted them on the TEC wall and it became clear from two decisions (No. 5-A and 6-A) that they were produced ontemplatesdesigned for all TECs in advance. Thus, in the text of the decisionsthere was an ellipsisinstead of the TEC number, as well as the applicant's name and surname, in order for the relevant TEC to simply fill in the name of the person submitting the complaint: moreover, standard justification for rejection of cases where the applicant was a NGO was envisaged.For example, in the abovementioned two decisions the subheading “If there is an NGO applicant” is mentioned, which also proves the fact of having drafted a general text of decision for all TECs in advance. This was detected accidentally due to the fact that TEC 30 forgotto delete the ellipsis and the mentioned phrase in the final text of the decision.Moreover, during the proceedings initiated before the Constitutional Court against the decision of the CEC on summarization of the results of the parliamentary elections, Tigran Mukuchyan, the CEC Chairman admitted the fact that the Central Electoral Commission had prepared decision templates, which were later adopted and approved as decisions. However, he justified this by statingthat the CEC has the authority to instruct TECs. The lack of independence and autonomy of TECs is also proved by the fact thattill April 7, 2017 no steps had been taken to examine the complaints submitted on April 3 and 4.Moreover, during these two or three days the observers monitoring the TECs were told by the commission members that they had no other function after they had received the complaints, they sent them to the CEC and expected for the decisions.


Not only did the Central Electoral Commission provide decision templates to territorial electoral commissions but it also instructed them to coordinate the process of appointmentsof hearings in TECs. On April 7, hearings were scheduled in the TECs no 10, 12, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24, 29, 33 at 12:00, at the same time. The chairpersons of two TECs confirmed that the hearings were appointed on the same day at the same time in all TECs by the decision of the Central Electoral Commission.

The aforesaid has been done for a number of reasons: first, in order to make itimpossible to simultaneously participate in all the hearings; second, so that it becomesimpossible to appeal the decisions of the TECsbefore the final summarization of election results.

Another important issue related to the protection of electoral rights is the issue of the court fee to be paid for the complaints lodged with the court, which, in some cases,due to arbitrary calculations of various judges, exceeds AMD 100,000, which directly limits the right to access to court in election related disputes. Several strategic cases were initiated andin the pipeline in this regards, and the Citizen Observer’s team will keep the public posted about the developments in this area.


The observation mission was carried out under the project ‘Public Oversight Over 2017 Parliamentary Elections’ funded by the European Union and co-funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, National Democratic Institute and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia.

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