Georgia's Central Election Commission Allocates ₾54 Million for Advanced Voting Technologies From Smartmatic
The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia has selected Smartmatic International Holding for the acquisition of specialized vote counting and voter verification equipment.
The move comes in anticipation of next year's parliamentary elections, which will be conducted in a semi-electronic format. The contract with the international technology firm is valued at 54.2 million Georgian Lari (GEL).
Established in 2000 and officially registered in the Netherlands, Smartmatic International Holding has a distinguished portfolio, having provided election technologies for venues such as Los Angeles County, Kenya, the Philippines, Norway's Innlandet County, Albania, Bulgaria, Honduras, and Canadian provinces Ontario and British Columbia, among others.
According to tender specifications, the equipment must meet rigorous technical criteria:
The voter verification device should be purpose-built, incorporating specialized software and hardware to ensure accurate identification of voters. It must have an integrated digital data reader (MRZ reader) and printing capabilities. The MRZ reader should be compatible with Georgian passports and electronic ID cards and should have a manual entry option for voter data.
The electronic vote-counting machine will employ optical mark recognition technology (OMR). It should have integrated functionalities for scanning paper ballots, vote tallying, result summarization, and printing. It should also have the capability to scan both sides of a ballot paper. The system must include a digital reader that can recognize a QR code printed on the ballot while storing the ballot in a specially designed envelope. Furthermore, a real-time ballot count should be displayed on the machine's screen.
The acquired equipment is required to hold valid ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, and ISO 27001:2013 certifications.
In February 2023, the CEC passed a resolution outlining rules and conditions for electronic voting, thereby setting the stage for the adoption of innovative election technologies.
Additionally, the CEC has submitted its 2024 budget proposal to the Parliament, indicating a significant uptick to 147 million GEL — nearly three times its 2023 budget of 56 million GEL. A substantial portion, 109 million GEL, will be allocated for executing the election activities.