Georgia Increased Trust in Electoral Reforms Project Evaluation
In 2012 Democracy International evaluated USAID/Georgia’s Increased Trust in Electoral Processes (ITEP) project in Georgia, implemented by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). DI’s evaluation focuses on electoral management bodies, mainly the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Voters’ List Verification Commission (VLVC), and the State Audit Office (SAO), as well as civil society advocacy groups (CSOs) receiving assistance through ITEP.
DI’s three-person evaluation team examined the progress achieved in two of ITEP’s four objectives: (1) improving the capacity of election administration and (2) increasing the transparency of electoral processes through improved media coverage and civil society involvement. Additionally, the evaluation focused on whether ITEP’s design is appropriate to improve the electoral environment in Georgia and on examining the perceptions among beneficiaries and stakeholders regarding project activities to date. Lastly, the evaluation provided recommendations on how to improve the project in the remaining years of implementation.
DI’s findings support the conclusion that ITEP is performing up to expectations, delivering timely, valued technical assistance through high-quality field office staff and international consultants. Though the CEC is still a party-based structure, it is on a trajectory that, if continued through the election and afterwards, can serve to increase trust in electoral processes. In addition, the work of the VLVC to date and the VLVC-prepared preliminary voters’ list will likely help to reduce or eliminate the voters’ list as a major contentious issue and increase public confidence and trust in the integrity and quality of the upcoming election. Moreover, the leading CSOs have shown themselves capable of making good use of ITEP funding support for civic engagement in electoral processes.
DI’s recommendations include, among others, the intensification of voter education and outreach activities in minority areas and short-term actions by IFES to help ensure that Precinct Election Commissions are adequately prepared. Furthermore, for the remaining two years of the project DI recommends a joint USAID/IFES stocktaking exercise after the election, a restructuring of Georgia’s electoral system as allowed after the election, the development of an independent CEC and further increases in its operational effectiveness, and support to CSOs focused on increasing public trust and confidence in Georgia’s electoral structure and institutions, with the intention of making the process more participatory and nonpartisan.
Photo credit: Vladimer Shioshvili