By Anush Dashtents
Armenia’s Central Election Commission said on Monday that it will “try” to publish a complete breakdown of vote results from all 2,000 polling stations, but stopped short of committing itself to the important anti-fraud measure suggested by Western election monitors.
“We are not going to take any formal decisions on that issue for the simple reason that our law doesn’t require that,” the CEC chairman, Artak Sahradian, said, arguing that Armenia’s current electoral legislation already provides for a transparent vote count and tabulation.
Sahradian claimed that publishing the results of Wednesday’s presidential election on a precinct-by-precinct basis could be seriously delayed because of logistical problems. “We will try to do that,” he told reporters. “We will just not formalize [the measure] with a decision.”
Opposition candidates have alleged in the past that election results in Armenia are falsified mainly during the tabulation and counting of votes, with government-controlled electoral bodies fixing numbers in vote protocols. The authorities always denied the charges. However, they never gave a complete breakdown of the official figures.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has deployed the largest international election monitoring mission in Armenia, believes that the measure would seriously complicate fraud. The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Ordway, has also strongly advocated it.
"It is an absolutely key control that allows every citizen to see that the results of their polling station were included accurately as the count went forward," the head of the OSCE mission, Peter Eicher, told RFE/RL late last month. "Very often, in countries where elections are manipulated, the manipulation is found not so much in the stuffing of ballot boxes, but rather that the results somehow change as they move up the tabulation process."
Sahradian also said that the CEC has turned down the OSCE mission’s request to allow its monitors to sit next to the members of low-level electoral commissions on the voting day. He said that could turn the electoral process into a “mess.”