Electronic voting “qualitatively new system” for Georgia, a “top standard” - ruling party MP

Givi Mikanadze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Thursday, explained procedures for electronic voting. Photo: parliament of Georgia press office

Agenda.ge, 28 Sep 2022 - 11:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Givi Mikanadze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Wednesday said the introduction of electronic voter registration and voting in the country starting with the 2024 parliamentary elections was a “qualitatively new electoral system” of a “top standard”, in comments to critical reactions to the initiative by a part of the domestic opposition. 

Speaking with the Georgian public broadcaster, the MP dismissed the opposition’s claims that the electronic vote registration would cover only 70 percent of precincts, stressing that while 70 percent of voters would vote electronically, only about 10-15 percent would still cast their votes in a traditional manner. 

Explaining procedures for electronic voting, Mikanadze said a paper, instead of a ballot box, would be used for voting, with the choices cast in an electronic counting machine. 

There will be no remote voting to prevent security threats and outer influence on the process. The machine will not be connected to the internet, it will just count the votes electronically. There will be no invalid ballots, or need for exit polls or the parallel vote count”, he said. 

The ballot papers cast in a traditional way "will be immediately digitised once taken out of ballot boxes", said the MP. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

In response to the opposition’s criticism on the electronic system not covering the whole electorate, the legislator pointed to the “high cost” of the devices for electronic voting, noting even countries with stronger economies were unable to hold fully electronic elections. 

However, Mikanadze said the approach to the traditional voting by the 10-15 percent of voters would be modified, stating that the ballot papers “will be immediately digitised once taken out of ballot boxes and instantly uploaded on the central election commission official webpage”. 

Therefore, it can be said that the 2024 elections will be held in a fully electronic and digital way, practically removing any threats for election rigging”, said the MP, adding that the ruling party was open to discuss related amendments with the opposition. 

“However, the radical part of the opposition has no desire to join the discussion”, he added. 

Irakli Kobakhidze, the chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, announced earlier this month the ruling team had made a decision on a widespread introduction of an electronic voter registration and voting system starting with the 2024 elections. 

Kobakhidze noted the government was “actively working” on the implementation of the 12-point conditions outlined by the European Union, which, among other things, involves revision of the Georgian election code.