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Brought to Polling Stations were People who Shouldn’t have Voted: Nikol Pashinyan on Hrazdan Elections

Haykakan Jamanak (“Armenian Times”) chief editor Nikol Pashinyan (pictured) in his editorial today described what he saw while observing as opposition candidate Sasun Mikaelyan’s proxy at polling station 25/16 during the Feb. 12 Hrazdan mayoral elections.

Pashinyan notes that in this particular polling station, there were 1,890 registered voters, 1,353 of which voted. Incumbent Aram Danielyan received 656 votes while Sasun Mikaelyan, 653. Forty-four votes were declared invalid.

Though there were no flagrant incidents and everyone who wanted to vote made it to the polling station before it closed, Pashinyan noted, brought to the polling station were people who “under normal circumstances shouldn’t have voted.”

The opposition representative cited an example of a 70-year-old man with tears in his eyes describing how he underwent surgery two days ago but was brought to the polling station from intensive care to vote. Receiving his ballot, he went to the booth and began to ask out loud how he should vote. One of the electoral commission members explained to him that there are two candidates and he can vote for whoever he wants. The man then came out of the booth with his ballot open and everyone could see that he had filled it out incorrectly. It was then explained to him how to properly insert a check next to the candidate’s name and he was given a new ballot, but not before Pashinyan saw that he had voted for Aram Danielyan.

Pashinyan explains that this was not the only such incident. Apparently, brought to the polling stations were elderly men and women who were physically unwell, who “had difficulty saying one or two words,” and who upon arrival announced that they were unable to vote independently and thus, voted guided by the assistance of their grandchildren or other individuals. Also brought to vote were the mentally ill who voted the same way and, “naturally, in Aram Danielyan’s favor.” There were frequent incidents of confused voters and open ballots that were returned and filled in again, but in the process, their vote for the incumbent was evident, Pashinyan noted.

The Haykakan Jamanak chief editor also cited several cases of Armenians with Russian passports. “These people have been living in Armenia these past few weeks or perhaps days, and come what may, they will again depart for Russia, because they have no other way of feeding their families… and many of those who came to 25/16 polling station perhaps are participating in elections in Armenia for the last time — many of them will leave and never return.”

“I tried to recall how many prosperous people or even those in ‘middle class’ dress I saw at 25/16 polling station. I can count them on my fingers,” he added.

Pashinyan concludes by pointing to the fact that though Aram Danielyan received 656 votes, “how many of those 656 citizens consider Danielyan’s victory theirs? I guarantee, not more than 50. The rest voted not because they decided, but because they were forced — others decided for them The proof of this was the citizen brought from the hospital who, receiving a ballot, was crying that he was operated on just two days ago, but today he was forced to come to the polling station.”