Belated Initiative
06 September, 2012
Belated Initiative

 

Will they let us into voting booths with mobile phones?

Taking mobile phones along with us into voting booths of ballot stations is a matter that asks for state-wide prohibition. At least this is what users of social networks are actively discussing now. They believe that if the State imposes it, one of the main rigging methods could be disabled.

Some political parties approve of the idea because they anticipate Governmental pressure on public servants inducing them to circle number five (number

of the ruling party) in the voting bulletin – and then immediately take a snapshot of the filled bulletin by the mobile phone. It’s another question if this idea is belated or not.

CEC categorically rules out any chance of such novelty. Nothing like that is planned, it says. Lela Taliauri, lawyer from GYLA, Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, cannot imagine viability of prohibition on carrying mobile phones into ballot stations.

“It’s just unimaginable to prohibit mobile phones inside the ballot stations. Regarding a voting booth itself, there is a rule that prohibits taking photos or recording videos inside the booth. If somebody is caught photographing or recording, the violation would be immediately registered,” – explains Taliauri.

To our question as to how such a control could be technically accomplished, she replies:  “This is why observers are there. They would register every violation. Chair of the given ballot station is obliged to eradicate the violation or else the case would be forwarded to the higher structures.”

When asked how the observers could do it when they are not allowed into the booths, Taliauri asserts that the observers would overhear the sound of photographing.

“Nobody except the voters can enter booths. There is no mechanism to control the process. Those persons who are going to do it, should know that they violate the law. There is nothing else to do about the control over the voting inside the booths.

“There was no such prohibition in any previous elections. So, why they would impose it now for these elections is not clear; especially, when there is no apparent background substantiation. The reform that led to the refinement of the  legislation already came into force in May. Now it is highly unlikely that the  Parliament would be convened to vote for such a novelty,” – reflects the GYLA lawyer.

According to Nino Lomjaria, Chair of Fair Elections, the law unequivocally states that no photographing or recoding is allowed inside the booths.

“Yet, we are aware that public servants are forced to vote for the ruling party and document it by photographing the bulletin. Hence, such a legislative change could be very important.”

“It is better to prohibit taking inside the booths not of just mobile phones but any others technical means capable of photographing and video recording. Such a rule would not contradict with any existing law. In fact, it would even enforce the current provision in the law that prohibits photographing or recording inside the booths,” – notes Lomjaria. Nevertheless, she acknowledges the difficulty innately associated with such control.

The head of Fair Elections points out that taking of weapons into the booths is likewise prohibited but the reality shows that the control cannot be adequately imposed. For one thing, there is nothing like body checks on the spot.

She opines that theoretically technical means similar to those currently used at the gates of University entry general exams can be used to prop up the control.

“They have not used such things till now. So it is hard for me to come up with a well formed position. If this is well tested method and would not cost the State huge money then perhaps they could find such use,’ – Lomjaria reasons.

It’s a fact that few weeks before the elections the Authorities will reject any more novelties outright. In a way, this was confirmed at the first contact with the Central Elections Commission. It said that they heard about such an initiative first time and that nothing like this is going to be on their agenda anytime now.

 

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