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Observer Missions Record First Violations in Constitutional Referendum Voting

Early Sunday morning Armenians have begun voting in a referendum on draft constitutional amendments that seek, among other changes, to transition Armenia from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system of governance.

Local observer missions claim to have already registered a number of infringements at this stage; Citizen Observer initiative, in particular, reports that it's representatives have recorded 11 violations at 8/24 polling station in Yerevan's Malatia-Sebastia administrative district.

“The head of the [electoral] commission violated an observer's right of freedom of movement, as well as hindered monitoring activities. The observer staked his claim to his rights, to which the commission head replied with obscenities,” the initiative said in a statement.

A Citizen Observer representative has also recorded several cases of violation of the secrecy of voting at the same polling station: “The ballot box is located right next to the main entrance door, and an unknown person (who is probably related to the head of the commission) directs the voters during the election process. Commission members are also obviously directing the citizens. The commission head has been notified of this problem, but, naturally, is hasn't been resolved. The head reacts aggressively to these remarks.”

Citizen Observer has recorded similar cases at 9/16 polling station in Kentron administrative district. The initiative claims, voters are being directed both inside and outside of the polling station. The commission head at this polling station has hindered the observers' activities by prohibiting them from observing the voter lists.

Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor office (HCAV) has also been reported obstructions of the work of observers. The human rights organization has stated that at several polling stations observers have not been allowed to find out the voters' names or check their assigned numbers in the voter lists.