By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s Central Election Commission issued on Wednesday final instructions to the heads of its regional divisions, telling them to strictly follow the law and deal strongly with ballot box stuffing and other irregularities reported in the recent presidential vote.
“We have no right to once again give the international community and our people in general reason to cast doubt on our work,” the CEC chairman, Artak Sahradian, said at a meeting with the chairpersons of the 56 electoral districts across Armenia.
Sahradian stressed that they must make sure that lower-level election officials respect the legally guaranteed rights of candidates’ proxies, process all complaints related to the voting and counting processes and submit official protocols of precinct-level vote results to the CEC within 12 hours from the closure of polls. He said the election officials should be particularly attentive to possible attempts at ballot box stuffing, the most widespread form of fraud reported during the presidential election.
The illegal practice was a key reason why international observers concluded that the two-round vote fell short of democratic standards. Sahradian, however, again described as “normal” the authorities’ handling of the ballot. “It’s just that some people cast shadow on it,” he said. “So I ask and demand that you keep such people away from the electoral process right from the beginning.”