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2018 Sep

Press release: September 23, 2018

Yerevan city council elections on September 23, 2018 were the first in the past 20 years in Armenia that were held in free and competitive environment, where every citizen’s vote was crucial, and the results of voting were not determined in advance.

During these elections about 160 observers of “Akanates” (Eyewitness) election observation mission monitored the electoral process in 80 precincts in all administrative districts of Yerevan.  

In the voting preparation stage the observers of “Akanates” election observation mission registered the following. (Reports on some of the violations are still being verified).

With the exception of one case no problems were registered regarding the observers’ entry into the polling stations. Due to an incorrect address posted on the Central Electoral Commission’s website the observers wasted two hours to find the premises. It turned out that the address of 7/10 and 7/11 precincts in kindergarten No. 84 was stated as 15 Sheram Street instead of 23 Hovnatan Street.

All the commissions had quorum in their morning meetings in the respective precincts observed. No problems were revealed regarding fire-resistant safe, ballot box or its placement and checking of Voter Authentication Device (VAD). One problem with regard to campaign materials was solved on the spot.  

In 2 (3%) precincts the procedure of drawing of lots was violated;

In 1 (1%) precinct reference on zero participation was not printed.

In 3 (4%) precincts unauthorized people, such as a guard, a mother of a commission member and an unauthorized citizen were present, who after being warned left the polling station at that point.

There were no problems with posting voter and political party lists.

Forty-seven (59%) precincts were inaccessible to the people with limited physical abilities.

In 14 (18%) precincts the polling stations were furnished in such a way that they failed to provide secrecy of vote.

In 2 cases the rights of the people entitled to be present in the polling station were hindered.

Two (3%) precincts were opened for voting 5-15 minutes later.

The detailed description of some of the violations is described below.

In particular, the following problems were identified by “Akanates” observers

Problems with furnishing

In 2/16 polling station there was a polyethylene cover on one side of the voting booth, so that it was possible to see how the people voted from its backside. Though the observer informed about it to the commission chair the latter and other members assured that no one would come and control the voting from there. The observer insisted that the violation be registered in the registration book. However, the place of the voting booth remained unchanged.   

In 2/28 precinct there was a door behind the voting booth, which according to the commission chair was closed. The commission members signed on a blank paper and stuck it on the wall. According to the observers all the members were aware of the existence of that door.

There was a door in the back of 2/40 precinct voting booth. The voter explained the problem to the commission. The door was closed by a sticky tape, trying to neutralise the possible risk because of the door.

There is a door behind the voting booth of 4/28 precinct and over it there is an open window. The commission chair insisted that the fact be checked a day before. The voting booth was not moved. However, the commission members closed the window with papers and sticky tapes. It was registered in the registration book.

There was a door behind one of the voting booths in 5/10 precinct and there was a key on the door. The observer asked to move the voting booth. In reply to the latter’s request the commission chair first refused to move the voting booth, when the observer insisted that his/her assessment be registered in the registration book, the latter agreed and the voting booth was moved. The district electoral commission members visited the precinct and insisted that the voting booth be taken to the same place. A paper was stuck in the backside with the signature of the observer.

In 9/48 precinct there were stairs behind the voting booths and there was a door (a blackboard was placed only behind one of three voting booths). The commission clarified that the day before the representatives of district electoral commission visited the precinct and told that it was impossible to furnish the precinct otherwise and therefore, the voting booths should not be moved. The commission chair was insisted that the opinion on the problem be registered in the registration book. Though the commission chair did not object, the commission secretary refused to register.  

Problem regarding drawing of lots

In 2/22 precinct some commission members arbitrarily changed their functions designated by drawing of lots. Moreover, they registered and kept the already changed versions. By the request of an observer the incident was registered in the registration book of the precinct.  

In 7/34 precinct the procedure of drawing lot was violated. While drawing a lot, commission member Aram Ohanyan was assigned the same function of slicking self-adhesive stamp and of being responsible for the ballot box for six times. However, the latter refused to carry out the same function for six times. The commission chair notified about it to the district election commission and decided to have a lot drawn once again. The observer insisted that the violation be registered in the registration book but the commission chair refused.

After opening 8/15 precinct a commission member sealed about 30 envelopes. The observer insisted to register his/her opinion about the violation in the registration book. At first, they refused to register, justifying that the issue should be voted and the commission should decide whether it was valid or invalid.  After the observer’s insistence the assessment was finally registered in the registration book.

Problems regarding reference on 0 participation                            

In 8/9 precinct the VAD failed to print the reference on 0 participation in time. Therefore, the precinct was opened at 08:10. The Commission made a protocol, took a note in the registration book, after which the precinct was opened.

 “Akanates” observation mission was founded by Transparency International Anticorruption Center NGO, Journalists’ Club “Asparez” NGO and “Restart” Civic Initiative. The partner of “Akanates” observation mission during Yerevan Council Elections is also Law Development and Protection Foundation.