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After the ISFED released a statement on the identification of a technical fault in the vote calculation formula in PVT results, FactCheck reviewed several articles. As one of the signatories of the IFCN, FactCheck should abide to the commitments provided by its own Code of Principles which says clearly that FactCheck has a commitment to re-analyse and correct articles. This commitment is enshrined in Principle 5 of FactCheck’c Code of Principles, saying that “[IFCN] signatories publish their corrections policy and follow it scrupulously. They correct clearly and transparently in line with the corrections policy, seeking so far as possible to ensure that readers see the corrected version.”

This editorial letter includes those articles and remarks, including their respective URLs, which have been verified anew subsequent to the ISFED’s statement.

Tamar Zhvania: All of those assessments, which somehow sound like the Central Election Commission does something wrong, are absolutely false and lacking ground.

Editor’s Remark

To reach the verdict in the initial version of the article, FactCheck used the ISFED’s parallel vote tabulation results published on 1 November 2020. In accordance with the ISFED’s statement on 1 November 2020, mismatches were found at 8% of the polling stations and their impact on election results would be less than 4.1%, also pointing out that this tendency endangered trust towards the electoral process.

On 11 December 2020, the ISFED released a statement on the identification of a technical fault in the vote calculation formula. In particular, the number of invalid ballot papers were counted along with the votes received by electoral subjects. As a result of a respective correction, the percentage points of votes received by electoral subjects were altered.

Given the ISFED’s aforementioned statement, FactCheck will no longer take PVT results into account. Although, this said, the verdict of the article will not be changed. Of note is that at the time of Tamar Zhvania’s statement (1 November 2020) there were numerous legitimate and critical questions addressed to the CEC. After the end of the voting process, photographs and videos showing identified irregularities during the voting day started to circulate through social networks and on the internet. In addition, as of 1 November 2020 there were multiple rough mismatches and violations in the summary protocols of the polling stations (in time, the CEC managed to rectify the irregularities by correction protocols). As of 1 November 2020, other observer organisations in addition to the ISFED (Transparency International Georgia and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association) were also emphasising the mismatches and the scale of identified irregularities. Therefore, at time of writing the article, the statements of the observer organisations as well as the shortcomings in the summary protocols published on the official website provided enough ground to criticise the CEC.

CEC: Incorrect information is reported in regard to mismatches in summary protocols of the Precinct Election Commission which is a deliberate campaign to sow distrust towards the result of the elections.

Editor’s Remark

To reach the verdict in the initial version of the article, FactCheck used the ISFED’s parallel vote tabulation results published on 1 November 2020. In accordance with the ISFED’s statement on 1 November 2020, mismatches were found at 8% of the polling stations and their impact on election results would be less than 4.1%, pointing out that this tendency endangered trust towards the electoral process.

On 11 December 2020, the ISFED released a statement on the identification of a technical fault in the vote calculation formula. In particular, the number of invalid ballot papers were counted along with the votes received by electoral subjects. As a result of a respective correction, the percentage points of votes received by electoral subjects were altered.

Given the ISFED’s aforementioned statement, FactCheck will no longer take PVT results into account. Although, this said, the verdict of the article will not be changed. Apart from the ISFED’s PVT results, FactCheck also relied on assessments of NDI Georgia Office Director Alan Gillam and IRI President Daniel Twining as well as the joint statement released by 25 NGOs. In addition, in the statement the CEC only points out objective circumstances stipulating differences between the summary protocols of the proportional election and the summary protocols of the majoritarian elections and it seeks to explain all other gross violations by human errors (technical inaccuracies). The article’s analysis and the aforementioned assessments prove the manipulative nature of such a statement. Therefore, the ISFED’s report and the error has not affected FactCheck’s thinking on reaching a verdict for this statement.

Giorgi Kakhiani: “Extra ballot papers were registered in 19 polling stations across Georgia and the total number of surplus ballot papers was 25. So it means that the elections were rigged by 25 votes.”

Editor’s Remark

To reach the verdict in the initial version of the article, FactCheck used the ISFED’s parallel vote tabulation results published on 1 November 2020. In accordance with the ISFED’s statement on 1 November 2020, mismatches were found at 8% of the polling stations and their impact on election results would be less than 4.1%, pointing out that this tendency endangered trust towards the electoral process.

On 11 December 2020, the ISFED released a statement on identification of technical fault in the vote calculation formula. In particular, the number of invalid ballot papers were counted along with the votes received by electoral subjects. As a result of a respective correction, the percentage points of votes received by electoral subjects were altered.

Given the ISFED’s aforementioned statement, FactCheck will no longer take PVT results into account. Although, this said, the verdict of the article will not be changed. Giorgi Kakhiani emphasises in his statement only a small number of extra ballot papers and ignores the numerous other violations during the election process. Distrust towards the election was stipulated by the number of violations and their content together and the singling out of only one specific indicator is not relevant. The official statistics, compiled by the CEC, also attest to the large number and diversity of election irregularities. The facts in the article prove that Giorgi Kakhiani’s statement is a manipulation of facts.

Tea Tsulukiani: “The opposition does not have any weighty argument that the elections were rigged.”

Editor’s Remark:

FactCheck concludes that Tea Tsulukiani’s statement is HALF TRUE.

To reach the verdict in the article, FactCheck mostly relied on ISFED’s parallel vote tabulation results. According to these results, mismatches were found at 8% of the polling stations and their impact on election results would be less than 4.1%.

On 11 December 2020, the ISFED released a statement on identification of technical fault in the vote calculation formula. As a result, given the margin of error, the ISFED’s PVT results are now in line with the CEC’s official results.

Given the aforementioned change, the results of ISFED’s PVT can no longer be used as a “weighty” argument that the elections were rigged. However, other circumstances which perhaps are not named in the article but are emphasised by NGOs, including international organisations, will still be taken into account. These circumstances are: leaving complaints en masse without consideration, the so-called “carousels” and violations during the pre-election campaign (use of administrative resources, pressure, intimidation, etc.), which are also highlighted by the ISFED. Therefore, the verdict of LIE will be changed into the verdict of HALF TRUE.

Giorgi Kakhiani: “We see trumped up assessments on ostensibly rigging the elections. The opposition has no evidence of that.”

Editor’s Remark:

The ISFED’s PVT results will not affect the verdict of this article. The updated figures may invalidate one of the biggest arguments on “rigging” the elections, although the claim that the opposition has no evidence of that is not true. The observer organisations, including the ISFED, emphasised numerous important irregularities which have been identified before and during the elections. The argument of the NGOs and the opposition that their complaints were en masse left without consideration also needs to be taken into account.