Urging CEC to revise regulations restricting filming inside polling stations

27 Sep, 2012

Members of the umbrella group of civil society and watchdog organizations, This Affects You Too and representatives of Coalition for Media Advocacy urge the Central Elections Committee to re-discuss the decision over imposing restrictions on filming inside polling stations during the Election Day. On September 25 representatives of media and NGOs organized the rally on CEC premises calling CEC for revising the decision. 

A Joint Statement of Coalition for Media Advocacy and This Affects You Too Campaigners

In our opinion, the resolution ‘On the Definition of Some Election Procedures’ passed by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia on September 24, 2012 is not a well-grounded one and violates the rights of people authorized to be present at polling stations – to take photos and make video recordings (except for voting booths) without hampering the election process.

It is alarming that the resolution imposes several serious restrictions on the media an observers, including:

1.  Taking photos and making video recordings is possible from a special place designated by the chairmen of the commission. This designated place should be selected so that the voting process is visible from there;

2. The place from which making photos or filming is allowed should not be closer than three meters from an object which will be filmed;

3. If a person authorized to be present at the polling station decides to move a camera to other place or leave the polling station he/she won’t be able to return to that place in the same polling station and continue filming;

We think that by making this decision the CEC has exceeded its powers.

The CEC decision is a new and different act, which was not necessary to adopt.  The CEC was not able to name cases of hampering the election process by journalists.  According to the CEC, the act was adopted based on the recommendation of the Venice Commission on removing video cameras – we think that the recommendation by the Venice Commission aimed at preventing the possible control of voters by the state rather than imposing groundless restrictions on the media and observers.

The decision has reduced significantly the transparency of the election process.  CEC could not provide any backing for the decision to impose restrictions on taking photos and making video recordings. 

A special focus should be made on the fact that the act was passed seven days before the elections.  Therefore, observers and media representatives will not be able to learn about restrictions in time, which will lead to driving them out of polling stations and imposing fines on them for hampering the process.  This factor will have a negative impact on the reliability of the election results.

Given the above mentioned facts, in our opinion, the CEC resolution of 24 September, 2012 shall be immediately declared void.