By Gevorg Stamboltsian
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has posted Armenia’s notoriously inaccurate voter registers on the Internet in an effort to encourage citizens to check whether they are properly listed in them in advance of future polls.
The special web site, at http://voters.elections.am, was inaugurated by the CEC on Friday in the presence of senior government officials and journalists. The extensive data contained in it is sorted by regions and local communities, with a search engine making it easy for visitors to look for their names.
The first test of the online database highlighted serious flaws and inaccuracies in the voter lists which have been a major source of turmoil in all Armenian elections held in recent years. Justice Minister David Harutiunian attending the ceremony found that his patronymic name is grossly misspelled, while a reporter failed to find his name in his community rolls.
“We posted the lists which were given to us by local governments,” CEC chairman Garegin Azarian said, reacting to the embarrassing glitches.
Tens of thousands of voters were routinely turned away from polling stations in the parliamentary and presidential elections after being told that they were somehow not included on the lists. Thousands would promptly turn to courts to have their voting rights restored.
Harutiunian complained that many local self-government bodies still fail to make corresponding changes in the vote registers after court rulings. Azarian laid the blame on local authorities. But he stressed that the voters will now have an additional way of safeguarding their rights before elections.
But with Internet connection affordable for only a small percentage of Armenians, the impact of the CEC initiative may well prove to be quite limited.