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Adoption of Armenia’s New Constitution As Depicted by Independent Observers and Media

Numerous violations were registered by independent local and international elections observers, human rights organizations, and media representatives during the December 6 Constitutional referendum across Armenia. They have assessed the official results of the referendum as illegitimate; meanwhile, members of Russian and CIS monitoring missions claim the voting process went smoothly, without any infringements. 

Epress.am has made a compilation of video materials published by local media outlets and observers during and after the referendum.

Voting in other persons' names

A number of people showed up to vote in the referendum only to find signatures by their names in the voter lists. These people were not allowed to vote by electoral commission members since ballots had already been cast in their names. 

An Epress.am correspondent witnessed one such incident at a polling station in Mughni village of Armenia's Aragatsotn province:

Civilnet.am's video from Gyumri:

“You won't pass them” initiative's video:

Lawyer Hasmik Rafayelyan recorded a similar incident at a Yerevan voting precinct; she and her entire family were deprived of their right to vote. The electoral commission head explained this by a “technical problem.”

Ballot-box stuffing

Observers registered multiple cases of ballot stuffing at different voting stations. 

Transparency International's video:

One observer published photos of a ballot box with neatly stacked ballots in it:



Pressure and violence against observers, media representatives

Pressure on journalists continued throughout the entire day. At 10/20 polling station in Yerevan's Kentron and Nork Marash administrative districts, a proxy from Armenia's ruling Republican Party initiated an altercation with iLur.am freelance correspondent Rafayel Afrikyan, tore his clothes and broke the reporter's camera.

Transparency International's video:

Anush Mkrtchyan, a correspondent of RFE/RL's Armenian Service, encountered obstacles near a Republican “Yes” campaign headquarters. An elderly woman yelled at Mkrtchyan, pushed and pulled her, hindered her work for nearly 20 minutes.

Azatutyun.am's video:

Another video by Azatutyun.am – an observer spat on and cursed at by an unknown person at a voting precinct.

An unknown person – presumably a voter – demanded that observer Lara Aharonyan should stop filming at the polling station. “You have no right to film me without my permission,” he said.

At Yerevan's 10/18 precinct, electoral commission head hit the camera of a Civilnet.am correspondent (starts at 2:00).

Civilnet.am also reported that an observer had been physically attacked at 4/1 polling station in Yerevan's Arabkir district:

Voting with additional lists

Local observers, political forces have noted that voting with additional lists created vast opportunities for electoral fraud. In particular, voters were brought by buses from several rural areas to vote in Yerevan's polling stations.

Opposition Armenian National Congress party deputy head Levon Zurabyan called these lists a 'novelty' among electoral falsifications: “These were allegedly created for people who were unable to vote in their rural precincts. They could've applied a week prior and be transferred to another list. It turned out, however, that these lists were overblown, and, for example, a hundred people from some village decided to come and vote at a station in Arabkir.”

A1plus.am's video about the additional lists:

Money distribution inside and outside of the premises

Media representatives have also registered cases of money distribution among citizens. A reporter from RFE/RL's Armenian Service filmed an unknown man handing out 10 thousand dram bills to citizens near a voting station.

Another such incident was caught by a Hetq.am's camera:

Use of administrative resources, direction and intimidation of voters

Vahagn Gevorgyan, the electoral commission head at 3/18 polling station in Yerevan's Kanaker-Zeytun administrative district, filmed a young man who was trying to view the voter list to “only check whether the people on my list have come to vote or not.” The youth said he had been sent from a ruling Republican Party headquarters.

Administrative resources, registration of people at foreign addresses, voter intimidation were used by “Yes” campaigners widely even prior to the referendum.

Epress.am, namely, was notified by a citizen who wished to remain anonymous that unknown men were going door to door in one of Yerevan's districts trying to find out how they intended to vote. Citizens who refused to vote in favor of the draft were called in to “Yes” headquarters, where they were threatened and terrorized into voting 'yes' with promises of “problems in the hood.”

According to another report from one of the villages of Ararat province, several young men were promised their jailed friend would be set free if they voted for the constitutional changes.

Citizens also reported that they had found strangers registered at their apartments. A Yerevan resident told Epress.am he appealed the problem to the Police's visa and passport department from where he was redirected to his district subdivision. Here authorities said the stranger's name would be written out from the address; however, his name would have to remain in the electoral roll since the final lists had been published and nothing could be done at this point. The registration of an unknown person at this address, they said, was “only a mistake.”

Ballot Counting

During vote counting unauthorized persons wandered around polling stations, seals got lost, lights got turned off.

Transparency International's video depicts the seal getting “stolen” at the 34/28 precinct in Shirak province:

Observer Arsen Ohanyan, in turn, filmed the events following the power blackout at 8/35 polling station in Malatia-Sebastia district:

“During the counting NO was winning with 52 percent, and there were not a lot of ballots left in the box – around 40-50. And suddenly the lights 'accidentally'  turned off, immediately after which the head of the commission hit the 'yes' stack and dropped them on the floor. 

“Power was out for about 20 minutes, and then it turned out that the fuse had been turned off […] I went to turn the fuse back on because none of the commission members wanted to. When the lights were back on, we saw a stack of 'no' ballots had disappeared, while the number of 'yes' had increased. As a result, 'yes' votes won in our precincts,” Ohanyan wrote on his Facebook page.

Heritage Party Board Member, journalist Hrayr Manukyan was physically attacked at 5/1 precinct where he was stationed as an observer. 

Azatutyun.am's video:

Hetq.am's video depicts unsealed bags and ballots scattered all around the floor at 13/23 voting station in Yerevan's Erebuni district:

Crossing names off voter lists

Prior to referendum day, a number of citizens had demanded their names be removed from electoral roll, stating they did not want to participate in the “illegitimate election process.” Authorities refused to comply with the request, and citizen Arpine Galfayan took the matters into her own hands by crossing herself out off the voter list.