ISFED’s statement regarding the electoral administration composition process
According to the April 19 Agreement, mediated by the European Union, the signatory parties agreed to take the responsibility of carrying out an “ambitious electoral reform”. Among other issues, the reform envisaged the selection process of professional members of Georgia’s election administration with a high quorum. According to the amendments introduced to the electoral legislation in June 2021, a professional member of a district or a precinct election commission shall be elected with the support of at least 2/3 of a relevant, upper-level commission. In case a candidate is unable to garner sufficient supportive votes, the second hearing is held, where the majority’s support is sufficient.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia opened a call for temporary members of District Election Commissions (DEC) on August 3, 2021. Candidate interviews were conducted on August 7, in a limited timeframe, and on August 8, the CEC approved the selection of the temporary members of DECs. Out of a total 17, just 15 CEC members participated in the selection process .
In total, 370 applicants contested for 219 vacant positions of district commission membership. The CEC managed to elect 218 temporary members, though the call for one vacant position at Telavi №17 DEC was re-published. Out of selected 218 temporary members, 98 (44.95%) were selected with the support of 2/3 of the CEC, while the rest 120 members (55.05%) were elected through the majority’s support. Also, out of 370 candidates, only 180 were interviewed. Notably, competition didn’t take place in 16.4% of electoral districts, and just 3 applications were received for 3 vacant positions. 
The CEC deserves credit for live broadcasting candidate interviews, ensuring a higher degree of transparency of the candidates’ hearing process. However, candidates were able to monitor their opponents’ interviews and accordingly prepare in advance. Additionally, some contestants refused to have their interviews broadcasted, resulting in an unequal competing environment for all candidates.
A significant number of candidates selected as temporary members of DECs are employed in the public sector, including Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entities (NNLE) established by the municipalities. In several cases, people chosen as the professional members of DECs, are/were affiliated with the ruling party due to their and/or their family member’s service, in the past, or recently. Also, 2 persons selected for the district electoral commission membership had disciplinary liability against them instituted previously.
As for the selection of Precinct Election Commission (PEC) members, DECs were given a time from August 14 to August 17 to complete the selection process. In total, 30 580 persons applied for 29 312 vacant positions. DECs selected only 29 086 candidates and the call for the rest 226 positions was republished, as it was not possible to complete selection on the first round. Notably, using a special electronic program, applicants nominated by any political party for any level of the election commission on the last general elections were automatically excluded from the selection process. 25 730 PEC members were chosen via 2/3 support of the DECs (88.46%), while 3 356 members (11.54%) were selected with the majority’s support. Noteworthy, that in 58% of electoral precincts, there were only 8 applications received for 8 vacancies.
Though the selection process was conducted in accordance with the law, the following noticeable tendencies have been observed, where:
- In those PECs, where the number of applicants was more than 8, the majority of DEC members voted for the first 8 candidates in the list;
- The chosen PEC members are affiliated with the ruling party by their current or previous work experience;
- On some candidates selected for PEC membership, disciplinary sanctions had been imposed for the 2020 Parliamentary Elections.
- Some DEC members were equipped with the pre-prepared list of candidates they were going to support;
- The number of applications for DEC membership resembled each other and were presumably written by the same person;
- In the majority of cases, DEC members appointed by
the United National Movement, European Georgia, and Lelo did not participate in voting for the PEC membership candidates.
The April 19 Agreement, as an epitome of consensus achieved by the political actors, and its subsequent electoral reform, committed to increase the trust towards the election administration. High trust was supposed to be garnered by the selection of the election commission members, especially on higher levels, with a high degree of confidence (2/3) and with multi-party support. Regrettably, chosen candidates do not enjoy with high-level of trust either from the public or political spectrum.
ISFED considers that the selection of the significant number of election administration representatives by low quorum still leaves the CEC facing its main challenge – the lack of trust towards the election administration. Particularly, high-level commission members were selected by the low level of support (100% in the case of 3 new CEC members and 55.05% in the case of districts). Unfortunately, the completion of election commissions, either through the multi-party consensus or with the high-level support of political actors, was not possible at any levels of election administration. Therefore, it remains a challenge to achieve one of the main goals of the April 19 Agreement - increased trust in election administration and electoral processes.
ISFED continues its monitoring of the selection process and will release detailed observations in the interim report of the pre-election period monitoring.
 On Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia “Election Code of Georgia”, Legislative Herald of Georgia, Date of Receipt: 28.06.2021, Available: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/5200931?publication=0#DOCUMENT:1 Note: A PEC member is considered elected if "the candidacy was supported by at least 3 members of the relevant district election commission elected by the CEC for a term of 5 years." According to the CEC Resolution №30 / 2021 of July 15, 2021, "On Approval of the Procedures for the Election of the Precinct Election Commission Members and the Decision-Making Rules" “If all vacancies are not filled in accordance with the above procedures, the candidate (s) who received more votes than others in the re-election will be elected as a member (members) of the Precinct Election Commission (s). "
 CEC members appointed by the “United National Movement” and “European Georgia” didn’t participate in selecting the participants. "The CEC has elected 218 temporary members in the district election commissions today", 8.08.2021, available at the CEC website: https://cesko.ge/geo/list/show/124211-tseskom-saolqo-saarchevno-komisiebshi-dghes-218-droebiti-tsevri-airchia
 „CEC selected 218 temporary district election commission members today“, 8.08.2021, available at the CEC website: https://cesko.ge/geo/list/show/124211-tseskom-saolqo-saarchevno-komisiebshi-dghes-218-droebiti-tsevri-airchia
 „Interviews with the candidates of the district election commission members was broadcasted live“, 7.08.2021, available at the CEC website: https://cesko.ge/geo/list/show/124202-saolqo-saarchevno-komisiebis-droebiti-tsevrobis-konkursantebtan-gasaubrebebi-laiv-rejimshi-tsarimarta-
 In the cases of Sighnagi, Akhmeta, Sagarejo, Gurjaani, Lanchkhuti, Poti, Batumi, Khobi, Martvili, Senaki, Baghdati and Kareli DECs.
 Davit Kharchilava, temporary member of Vake district election commission and Nato Laliashvili, a temporary member of Dusheti district election commission were imposed disciplinary responsibilities during the 2020 parliamentary elections.
 According to Article 24, Part 2 of the Election Code of Georgia, “It is inadmissible to elect a person as a member of the Precinct Election Commission who was appointed by a party as a member of any level election commission in the last general elections.
 „Statement regarding the selection of the district election commission members“, 16.08.2021, available at the CEC website: https://cesko.ge/geo/list/show/124432-gantskhadeba-saubno-saarchevno-komisiis-tsevrta-archevis-shesakheb