BLUFF AND NEW MECHANISMS OF RIGGING ELECTIONS
02 August, 2012
BLUFF AND NEW MECHANISMS OF RIGGING ELECTIONS

According to some people the authorities will rig the elections because, as they think, in their arsenal there are more than needed technical or psychological ‘weapons’ for fixing. Those who worked in election commissions know it well too. Besarion Jalagania, former head of district electoral commission: - There are lots of ways of rigging. The authorities have big resource of it but still the main problem will be decency of members of those opposition parties who will be distributed to

the polling stations.

 

Fan principle

An activist is sent to a polling station; he takes a bulletin but into the box he drops an empty envelope, without the bulletin. His vote is lost but in return the bulletin is taken out of the station where a ‘needed person’ circles desired for him number and passes it to a specially mobilized voter who, in his turn, must take a blank bulletin out of the station. The same manipulation is repeated and so on. Voting continues according to this fan principle. Commission members can’t control this mechanism as they aren’t authorized to open the envelope.

Merry-go-round

It’s a well-attested mechanism of rigging when one and the same people are taken from station to station in a mini-bus. Here we already deal with rigging of the lists. These people are included in the lists. Last year there were printed more than 300 thousand false IDs. Each activist of ‘National Movement’ had three different IDs. Taking out of IDs in polyethylene bags from House of Justice was fixed in Kakheti region. In three different IDs of one and the same person they change only one letter – for instance, if a voter’s name is Maya, in the second ID they write Maiko, in the third – Maka, etc.

Since losing of elections threatens ‘National Movement’, they began thinking about new technologies. Earlier the voters’ lists were arranged according to flats and rooms. Now they introduced alphabetic order. This complicates comparison of the lists.

Changing of protocols

Changing of protocol seems impossible. As a rule, 10 copies of a protocol are made and they are distributed to each member of commission and observers. The protocols must be signed by every member of the commission. If any of them doesn’t agree to the protocol, it must be written on it as a comment; but when the commission members are alleged oppositionists, substitution of protocols is easy. This is the case when commission members make an agreement. When there are trustworthy, competent and determined people, rigging is less likely. Rigging, mostly, is a result of dishonest dealing between opposition members and government.

Regions with non-Georgian population make big resource for rigging. For instance, during my time opposition had almost no members in commissions in Kvemo Kartly. Thus, nobody could control what was going on there. It seems that the so-called opposition wasn’t even interested to have their people there (?!)

ID with a chip

An ID with a chip is technically problematic. It has no address. Over 300.000 such IDs have been printed. If authorities wish it so, holders of these IDs can vote in several polling stations. A resource for rigging is also a portable box taken to sick people or those who can’t walk. As a rule, an opposition representative must attend transfer of the box but usually it is accompanied by an alleged opposition. The main problem of the coming elections is that ‘Georgian Dream’ is authorized to present only two people in the commission. In the coalition there are only two entities that can present people to commission – ‘Industrialists’ and Conservative Party. One of the strong mechanisms for rigging is the so-called special districts for the army and police detachments. A solid control is required at such places or otherwise they can vote at special districts as well as their own polling station.

Despite all these mechanisms the authorities see that all this may be insufficient because the situation has changed and there won’t be the kind of unanimity as was the case before. For this reason they are amending the law according to which unused bulletins won’t be counted. But if at the polling station the balance is violated and the sum of turned up people, invalid or unused bulletins don’t coincide the result may be protested. If the law doesn’t authorize to count such bulletins how can you establish the balance?

Change of administrative border

One more artificially created problem is the change of administrative border. Only recently they changed administrative border of Rustavi – Krtsanisi military unit was joined to Rustavi. ‘Georgian Dream’s’ office has long been functioning in Rustavi. Everything was distributed according to zones - they carried out ‘door-to-door’ checking and set up all the structures. Now they’ve been informed by the district commission that the administrative borders are changed. They cut a part from Gardabani and joined it to Rustavi. A military unit turned up to be in this special district. This is needed in order to take the army from one station to the other during the whole day and make the soldiers vote several times.

Principle of two protocols

I can tell you for sure that the principle of two protocols was first used en masse in 2008: they draw up two protocols – one reflects real picture but the other –the one that suits the authorities. Only the latter were sent to central commission. The real ones are kept for a rather long time in case international organizations want to check. The protocol is rigged when full consensus is reached between the opposition and authorities and they are fulfilling the so-called ‘supreme’ state order.

The scale of rigging now is of qualitatively different type compared to that of pre-‘Rose Revolution’ times. Earlier the opposition was bargaining with authorities on votes. They were telling the authorities – if you don’t give this much, I won’t sign the protocol; and there was much hustle. But whatever is managed by ‘Rose Authorities’ professional riggers is unimaginable for observers and people – after the elections they added the bulletins when everything was counted and finished. When unfavorable picture was outlined they printed new bulletins, summoned the commission chairmen and members and made them add these bulletins. In 2008 Saakashvili lost in every city: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, Telavi, Kvareli and even Batumi. Total rigging was rampant in villages and regions. This job is easy to carry out there. Generally, elections are rigged when opposition members of election commission are involved in it. When opposition members don’t protest obvious rigging, they are either bribed or frightened. There were cases when in a village or polling station only 37 people were registered but the number of participants was over 400. When this isn’t protested by an opposition member there is no talk about decency.

Bluff

Bluff has a big role in deciding the fate of elections. A couple of years ago, laughing, Vano Merabishvili told a Russian journalist that they created a myth that everybody was eavesdropped in Georgia. Of course it’s impossible but the myth justifies itself. The myth about the elections justifies itself as well… Rumors are spread that they allegedly have such technical means, including ballpoints and curtain-pins that they fix who voted for whom. Actually it’s a total lie because not only the whole Georgia but its small part can’t be eavesdropped – there is no sufficient manpower for it. The bluff is counted on mass psychology because psychological pressure is more justified than the technical one.

 

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