On October 15, Parliament of Georgia held the presentation on placing the e-signatures on legislative initiatives and petitions.
The implementation of this novelty comes from the recommendation of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), initiated in the first action plan of the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016, commitment 1.2, which considered submission of legislative proposals and initiatives to the Parliament of Georgia electronically, implementing its support mechanism through the official website of the Parliament of Georgia.
Even though the implementation of the commitment was considered in 2015-2016 years, it was not fulfilled, only its modified version turned into the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017 – commitment 1.1. (Elaboration of E-petition System) and commitment 1.3. (Submission of Legislative Proposals and Legislative Initiativesto the Parliament of Georgia electronically; Implementation of a Citizen Feedback Mechanism through the Parliament website).
From April 2018, in accordance to the amendments initiated in the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia, citizens of Georgia have the legal opportunity to collect e-signatures for supporting the draft law or address chairman of the Parliament of Georgia with the electronic petitions concerning a state or general problem. At the same time, citizens of Georgia have an opportunity to publish the draft constitutional law of Georgia on the Parliament website, to collect signatures of its supporters using the website. The process of collecting signatures electronically does not preclude collection of signatures in the written form, even though introducing modern technologies will help to increase the involvement of citizens in parliamentary activities.
“Not less than 200 000 voters” initiative
Supporters’ signatures can be collected by filling out specially designed written forms as well as electronically to submit a draft constitutional law of Georgia as part of the initiative “not less than 200 000 voters”.
Web-page of the Parliament of Georgia defines the submission of such procedures in details. Currently, there is one draft constitutional law registered on the Parliament website, as one can see the process of collecting signatures has already been completed.
“Not less than 25 000” initiative
Website of the Parliament of Georgia, provides the possibility of collecting supporters’ signatures electronically to submit a draft law. According to the International practice collecting e-signatures is a simplified and accessible form to support a draft law.
Submitted draft law of Georgia will be placed on the Parliament website,With the aim of collecting signatures electronically, where voters will be able to support the draft law of Georgia by putting a qualified electronic signature. Before signing, the voter indicates the phone number in the appropriate field electronically, afterwards, he / she puts the qualified electronic signature.
Qualified electronic signatures can only be executed if the deadline for collecting supporters’ signatures has not expired. Herewith, a voter can support a draft law only once.
Submitting a petition to the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia electronically is worth of noting, as the simplicity of the process will facilitate to increase the number of submissions as well as improving civil involvement in the parliamentary activities.
The petition is an electronic or written document signed by at least 300 persons concerning a state or general problem.
Both electronic and written petitions will be placed on the website of the Parliament of Georgia, except for a written petition that has been supported by at least 300 persons at the time of submission.
Any citizen will be able to support a petition electronically, within one months after publishing on the Parliament website, petition can be only supported once, indicating name and surname of the individuals.
The e-signature is carried out through the qualified electronic signature, which can be executed using an electronic ID. Signature requires an electronic ID card reader, as well as Universal Electronic Certificate Programs, and PIN codes of electronic ID.
Despite the fact that civic involvement in the parliamentary activities remains low, including submit and support of a petition, a new electronic possibility will promote increasing the number of citizens involved in the parliamentary activities, it will also have a positive impact on parliamentary openness. It is necessary to continue working on refining and simplifying the electronic format of publication and review of petitions in the subsequent years.
From 2015, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), with the support of EU and UNDP, is actively involved in the activities of parliamentary openness within the scopes of OGP. IDFI, as the member and Chair of the consultative group at the Open Governance Permanent Parliamentary Council actively participates in the elaboration and implementation process of the open parliament action plans (4 action plans).