Yes, but No: How the Rights of 677 Citizens Were Trampled

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By Ivan Ardhaldjian

Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced yesterday that 825,622 citizens, around 63.4 percent of eligible voters, voted in favor of constitutional amendments. Following the referendum, reports of irregularities and violations of the voting process at some of the polling stations emerged. Below, we publish the testimony of Ivan Ardhaldjian, who acted as a proxy on behalf of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) at polling station 4/32.


A child helps his father cast his ballot in Sunday’s referendum (Photo: ArmenPress)

At the 4/32 polling station, the local election commission and the proxies were not able to protect the rights of 677 citizens.

In the morning of Dec. 6 I voted “yes,” and proceeded to go to the 4/32 polling station as a proxy (“entrusted individual”) representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).

All day long, the elderly, the youth, families, professionals, and others walked into the polling station and voted. Throughout the day, I helped the elderly mount the stairs, I directed folks to the appropriate table according to their home addresses, and I often examined the conduct of members of the election committee.

I saw glimmers of hope in the eyes of a 90-year old voter, I felt the pride of young mothers and fathers who held their children against their chest or guided them by their hands and allowed them to throw the ballots in the box with the hope of a better, or the same Constitution.

I was proud to be a part of all this.

At 8 p.m., the doors closed, the vote counting began, and the chairman of the election committee opened the ballot box that was filled with 677 votes.

One by one, the chairman opened the envelopes, and with the confirmation of the committee categorized the votes into piles of “yes,” “no,” or “invalid.” At the same time, a member of the committee, another proxy, and I counted and recorded the results. At the end, based on the three counts, and a margin of error of three votes, we registered 404 “no” votes, 229 “yes” votes, and 31 invalid ballots.

Then, when the members of the committee began counting the votes, somehow the number of “no” votes went down to 117, the “yes” votes went up to 523, and the invalid ballots became 34.

Let me note a few odd occurrences:

1 – At 7:30 p.m. four individuals presented themselves at the polling station as observers.

2 – While the ballot envelopes were being opened, one of these new observers asked for a break. Suddenly, a fight broke out among these new observers—there was shoving and beating. That lasted approximately 3-4 minutes. Naturally, our attention was directed toward these four individuals.

3 – All four of these individuals willingly left the station immediately following this incident.

4 – Before the vote count began, the chairman of the election committee stepped outside to “start his car.”

I am certain that the ballots were switched in an illegal manner, and the constitutional rights of the 677 individuals who voted at the 4/23 polling station had been abused.

Shame on all the members of the committee and the “entrusted individuals” (including myself) for failing to protect the 677 voices of our fellow citizens—regardless of what they voted for.

Shame on all those who participated in this fraud, or who witnessed but turned a blind eye to it.

Shame on the leadership that instructed the planning and execution of such organized fraud.

Shame on anyone who—upon learning that there would be violations—knowingly walked away and refused to protect the rights of citizens.

Thank you, 677 citizens, for believing in our democracy. You are my hope. I will continue to struggle on your behalf.


The testimony was translated from the original Armenian into English by the Armenian Weekly.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Yes, but No: How the Rights of 677 Citizens Were Trampled