Statement on local government elections of September 18 and October 2, 2016

“Citizen Observer” Initiative carried out observation of  local government elections on September 18, 2016  in Armenia’s 16 communities (Ashtarak, Goris, Tegh, Tsaghkahovit, Aparan, Jrarat, Byurakan, Armavir, Azatamut, Achajur, Getahovit, Ditavan, Yenokavan, Lusahovit, Lusadzor, Gandzakar) and on October 2, 2016  in 18 communities (Gyumri, Vanadzor, Goght, Garni, Nor Yerznka, Argel, Kapan, Tsaghkashat, Akhtala, Lernapat, Artik, Vayk, Shatin, Gladzor, Martuni, Alaverdi, Mets Ayrum and Arevatsag).

Citizen observers of the initiative recorded about 150 electoral irregularities in the 56 precincts monitored by them on September 18 and nearly 190 irregularities in 122 precincts observed on October 2, 2016. Among the irregularities were:

  • Issues related to voter list (with the absence of a person’s name or with the name of a deceased person),
  • Violations of secrecy of the vote,
  • Multiple voting (voting on behalf of other person) or such attempts (signature in front of the voter’s name),
  • Directing (especially of elderly people) inside the polling station and outside it,
  • Violations of the procedure of helping voters,
  • Voting control,
  • Violations of rights of observers/media representatives, proxies or commission members, impeding their work or refusal to record irregularities in their journals,
  • Violations of organizational procedure by the precinct electoral commissions,
  • Availability of campaign materials and explicit campaign or anti-campaign in the precinct or in nearby area,
  • Overcrowding of people or cars in the area up to 50 meters radius adjacent to a polling station,
  • Presence of unauthorized people in the polling stations,
  • Presence of more than 15 people in the polling station at the same time.

The above mentioned irregularities, especially in the context of crimes committed during election campaign in some communities enable us to infer that local government elections in autumn 2016 were not free and fair and were not held in compliance with the principles of formation and expression of people's free will.

“Citizen Observer” Initiative which has carried out election observation mission since 2013, including local government election observation, recorded no significant improvement in precinct or territorial electoral commissions’ quality of work. The irregularities largely recurred from election to election and are more or less striking or extensive depending on competitiveness or political significance of the given election.  It is an obvious fact that the presence of independent observers in the precincts to some extent prevents irregularities, however the factors influencing the free will of electors, including misuse of administrative, financial and criminal resources are mostly uncontrollable. In practice they are manifested by violations of secrecy of the vote, voting control, voting on behalf of other people, directing the voters, taking the ballot papers out of the polling stations or such attempts. No effective action is taken by the bodies responsible for legitimacy of electoral process to prevent, reveal and eliminate them. Therefore, vote buying, pressures and intimidations are the implied mechanisms that the ruling political parties would rely on especially to receive desirable result via territorial proportional lists in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. These all prove that state governance bodies fail to demonstrate necessary political will to ensure free and fair elections and usurp people’s power by all means.  

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