“How were the Local Self-Government Elections Held? Summing up the Assessments”
A number of violations were recorded during the local self-government (LSG) elections, held on September 18 in 317 communities of 5 regions in Armenia. The representatives of "Citizen-Observer" Initiative and the opposition spoke about these violations during the discussion at Media Center.

Davit Khazhakyan, Board Member of “Bright Armenia” Party, Tigran Yegoryan, Senior Legal Consultant at “Europe in Law Association” NGO, Armen Grigoryan, Representative of “Citizen-observer” Initiative participated in the discussion.

Davit Khazhakyan said that “Bright Armenia” Party had candidates for the Council of Elders in Noyemberyan and Head of the Community in Jrarat during the first stage of LSG elections.

“In Noyemberyan, two candidates for Council of Elders overcame the barrier and will soon assume their responsibilities. In Jrarat, our candidate lost, we recorded some violations in the atmosphere. Initially, there were lots of crowds around the polling station and the first recorded violation was when a citizen came in and saw that someone had already voted instead of him/her. The commission member explained that a confusion occurred, and the line was just filled by another person. We naturally demanded to make a record at that time and not to allow the citizen to vote instead of whom it was already voted. Our lawyers presented certain procedures, which could pave the confusion, but the chairman of the commission said that it was possible to vote for someone else ... We witnessed that voting is taking place instead of another citizen and the committee did not pay attention and refused to draw up a record,” Khazhakyan said.  

He added that all that is video recorded and they would proceed related to the case of that violation. According to Khazhakyan, another violation was the void and empty envelopes found during the counting process. 

“Empty envelopes are indicators for the well-known "carousel" voting. Here we demanded that the commission made a record. As the elections of head of the community and the council of elders were held at the same time, there were two-color envelopes and ballots, but there were envelopes with ballots of a different color. They were just the invalid envelopes. The Committee decided to separate them and in the end it turned out that they could not determine how many invalid envelopes existed, and in fact, there was also an issue of the number of ballots,” Khazhakyan said.

He added that also in this case they had required to make a record but the chairman of the commission refused to do it.

Tigran Yegoryan said that during the LSG elections held on September 18 total of 105 written applications were submitted from 57 polling stations observed by 112 observers of "Citizen-Observer" initiative.

The number of calls was 136 at the time of the end of the voting. This complaint-applications do not include the possible violations related to the records and published official data.

The speaker said that all the complaint applications were submitted to the Regional Electoral Commissions and the Central Electoral Commissions.

“The complaints are mainly related to the grave violations. All the measures of violations were revealed that were used in state elections. These are the votes instead of other people, the use of unstamped envelopes and ballots. This is not a violation of the local level. There were centralized guidance and control over the voting process by the police," Yegoryan said.

Armen Grigoryan said that there is more activity by both the society and the political forces about the LSG elections.

“From this perspective, we see that the people who want to become observers to monitor the electoral process, are more interested in this process. But the problems that exist in the electoral system continue to be available, and we can see that these problems have a negative impact on the electoral process. One very important issue that became systematic is voting for someone else. We conducted observation in 16 out of 317 communities and this problem occurred in all of them,” Grigoryan said.  

He emphasized that this violation is recorded not only in local elections, but also during the state elections.

“This is connected with the close electoral register, and if there is a political agreement, if the signed voter lists are published, it will be possible to reduce such violations,” Grigoryan added.

Media Center also sent an invitation to the Central Electoral Commission but they refused to participate in the discussion.

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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