Judging by our estimates, there are approximately 2.6m of voters living in Georgia. There are 3.5m records in the official CESKO list. This difference is such because Georgia has passive voter registration, i.e. the CESKO (Central Election Commission) list is formed automatically from Public Relation Service (PRS) data and it includes records of citizens who no longer live in the place of registration. The updated data will allow us to estimate voter turnout and the general electoral picture in Georgia more accurately.
One of the key parameters for analyzing electoral statistics is the estimate of the number of voters that are currently living in Georgia. From the period of gaining independence, major levels of emigration are being observed in Georgia, which is why it is not easy to obtain a more accurate estimate. We used the results of indirect calculations which give a clearer electoral picture and help to answer some questions.
Our calculations are based on the following sources:
The evaluation of available data immediately draws attention to serious inconsistency. In reality, there are 3.5m records in the voters’ list that match with the citizens that are currently over 18 years old. According to the statistics in the population census, the overall number of citizens that currently live in Georgia is 3.7m. The difference between those two numbers is just 200,000. However, according to the official data there are approximately 1m of teenagers under 18 years old living in Georgia.
Such difference in numbers is subject to Georgia’s passive voter registration, i.e. the CESKO (Central Election Commission) list is formed automatically from the Public Relation Service (PRS) data and it includes the large number of citizens that are currently in internal or external emigration.
We found an indirect method to obtain more precise statistical records of Georgian citizens and conduct a more realistic examination of the estimate numbers. First, we proceeded to request the number of bearers of last names in the PRS list and then compared 300 of the most common last names with the CESKO list. To achieve greater clarity, we have revealed the comparison of the first 15 last names (Fig.1). The beige color represents the number of last names in CESKO list, while the red color indicates the differences between the PRS and CESKO lists. The proportion of the researched surnames equals to 35% in average across the aforementioned lists. By undertaking numerous tests, we concluded that we can use this proportion for the entire list with high precision. Thus, there are 3.5 + 35% = 4.7m records in the PRS list.
Finally, by estimating that people are moving out of their respective places of registration in uniform age proportion we conclude that the number of voters currently living in the voting locations accounts for an approximate of 2.6m. To achieve more precise allocation, it is necessary to utilize age- and geo-data, however, the estimate of 2.6m stands as a quite realistic assessment, regardless of the less visible, indirect factors in place.
1. Within the international community, the recommended practice of constructing the voters’ list is active voter registration (door-to-door registration). Passive voter registration may become an appropriate solution with the subsequent elimination of the possible inconsistencies in place. Evidently, the electoral lists in Georgia require a substantial evaluation and correction.
2. The voters’ list is formed automatically, and, according to our estimates, does not provide a realistic demographic account. There is currently an approximate of 900,000 irrelevant records that substantially influence the size of the total turnout. Moreover, due to the fact that it is not possible for Georgian citizens to vote outside of the area of registration, our findings reveal the significant issue of unequal access to electoral processes among the population of Georgia.
3. This situation was also noted by international observers (without estimating the scale of potential influence). One of the most important practical recommendations, reflected in the final report Presidential Election, 28 October and 28 November 2018 is easing the access to voting with other places of registration: “Consideration could be given to introducing a secure mechanism to permit voting to persons who will be away from their official registered address on the day of the election, especially if such persons are in the country. Consideration could also be given to providing voters with the opportunity to temporarily change their voting address within a limited timeframe.”
4. Also, with such a major difference in numbers (around 1/3 of the list not located in the place of voting) can become tempting for the authorities to manipulate the summary protocols, which, in turn, may lead to a substantial inequality in the electoral struggle.