Despite some improvements many violations reported during elections in Armenia
April 2017, Yerevan
Sona Ayvazyan, Executive director of Transparency International Anticorruption Center acknowledged positive amendments to the election legislation and the introduction of the new voter registration devices which improved the election day proceedings. At the same time, Ayvazyan stressed that a high number of violations were reported to the "map of violations" on the election day. In many cases, unauthorized persons or persons with local election observation accreditation overtook leading position among the election commission members and often assisted voters during the voting.
Lousine Hakobyan, President of the “Europe in Law” Association underlined that election day is only a part of the entire election process and stressed the importance of solving election disputes before making final assessment on the conduct of elections. According to Hakobyan, the new election law provides several restrictions which limit the possibilities to effectively prepare and fill election related complaints based on the reports of observers and voters.
Daniel Ioannisyan, Programs Director of the Union of Informed Citizens, drew attention to the large number of domestic observers accredited at the Central Election Commission. However, he stressed that only up to 20 % of the observers were representatives of the acknowledged independent civic organizations while the majority represented political actors or mostly unknown organisations. According to Ioannisyan, many regulations were amended in order to ensure the secrecy of vote, however, in many cases ballots and special envelopes were apparently manipulated to achieve a particular results. Further shortcomings took place during the transportation of the election material to the territorial election commissions and during the tabulating of the votes. In many cases protocols from precincts were corrected before they were delivered to the territorial commission.
Levon Barseghyan, Head of the Journalists’ Club Asparez based in Gyumri, informed that the observers have collected a lot of information on shortcomings and that this material should be sufficient for the police and prosecutor to investigate relevant cases. In his opinion, however, the police did not do enough to investigate the reported violations.
Lilia Shibanova, board member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), condemned the refusal of the CEC to invite international non-governmental election monitoring organizations to observe the election day proceedings. She underlined the importance of the Armenian civil society which was able to achieve progress with regard to democratic election procedures.However, to establish truly democratic elections in Armenia still much have to be done by citizen election observers.