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‘We are confident that the will of the Georgian people was expressed last night through the ballot box’

(Tblisi, Georgia) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and James Risch (R-ID), both members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement after participating as official U.S. election monitors of the October 1st Parliamentary elections in the country of Georgia.

“We are confident that the will of the Georgian people was expressed last night through the ballot box and will be accounted for in the final election results.  After a record election turn-out and a relatively calm, peaceful and orderly voting process with few reports of any serious incidents or violations, Georgians everywhere should be proud of their Election Day.      

There is little doubt that this was the most competitive election in Georgian history and with thousands of domestic and international monitors watching nearly 3,700 polling stations, it was also perhaps the world’s most observed and scrutinized election in recent history.   

The fact is that democracy is a long-term effort, and it cannot be accomplished over the course of a single election.  The democratic movement in Georgia is not yet complete, and there is much more hard work to be done, but the people of Georgia took an important step yesterday. 

As U.S. elected officials, we can appreciate that the hard work of democracy is not always pretty.  The campaign and the lead-up to Election Day in Georgia were tough, polarizing and messy, and the significant allegations of campaign violations on both sides will need to be addressed in the immediate aftermath of this campaign.

The people of Georgia have spoken.  They deserve leadership that is ready to bring an end to the polarizing noise of the campaign season, set aside their partisan differences and work constructively together to tackle the very real problems that the Georgian people have called on them to solve.  We would urge all leaders to respect the results of the election.

We congratulate the Georgia Dream coalition for its strong showing. We commend President Saakashvili and his party for the statesman-like response to the electoral results and their stated commitment to advancing Georgia's democratic ideals and institutions, which they worked so hard to build.

As members of the United States Senate and two strong friends of Georgians everywhere, we obviously have no candidate in this race.  We look forward to working with all of Georgia’s leaders to deepen our bilateral ties and help further strengthen Georgia’s young and advancing democracy.” 

The bipartisan election observer delegation consisted of Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Jim Risch (R-ID).  They traveled to Georgia as official election monitors and under the official sponsorship of the United States Embassy in Tbilisi.  They visited 11 polling stations and spoke with numerous international and domestic monitors, Central Election Commission representatives, political party members and Georgian voters in order to ensure compliance with international standards and Georgian law and to monitor any electoral violations.  Both Senators are members of the United States Foreign Relations Committee.  Senator Shaheen is the Chair of the Subcommittee on European Affairs, responsible for oversight over U.S. policy in Georgia, while Senator Risch is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.