By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Garegin Azarian, admitted on Thursday the existence of errors and omissions in the text of Armenia’s recently amended electoral code that was published by the CEC.
But he said the discrepancies between the legislation approved by parliament and its published version sent to lower-level electoral bodies will be corrected and will have no impact on the conduct of future elections.
One of the CEC’s two opposition members, Felix Khachatrian, on Tuesday cried foul over the discrepancies, saying that they could facilitate fraud in the next parliamentary and presidential elections. Khachatrian singled out a missing sentence in Article 7 of the Code which requires the electoral authorities to release final figures for the nationwide voter turnout within 18 hours from the closure of polling stations.
The clause is apparently aimed at making it more difficult for the authorities to inflate the number of people taking part in elections and thereby falsify their results. Azarian insisted that it was mistakenly and unintentionally dropped by the CEC staff that he said published a brochure containing the code “in haste.”
Azarian also said that the missing sentence is irrelevant to members of the district and precinct election commissions anyway as it is the CEC that has to meet the turnout announcement deadline. “The provision mentioned by you applies to nationwide elections and the Central Election Commission,” he told RFE/RL.
Azarian also claimed that the CEC has already corrected the 5,000 copies of the brochure that are due to be distributed to its territorial divisions. However, one of those copies given to RFE/RL had only one hand-made correction.