Armenia’s largest vote-monitoring organization made a largely positive evaluation of Monday’s presidential ballot on Wednesday unlike other local observers.
The Choice Is Yours non-governmental group deployed more than 1,500 monitors across the country on election day in a mission that was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
According to the group’s chairman, Harutiun Hambardzumian, they witnessed various irregularities such as misuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters by supporters of President Serzh Sarkisian. But Hambardzumian insisted that those violations were not serious enough to influence the official vote results that gave victory to Sarkisian. He also said voting was peaceful and orderly in most polling stations observed by his organization.
“In comparison to the presidential election of 2008, there were fewer vote irregularities,” Hambardzumian told a news conference. “That is why we said in our conclusion that these elections were better organized.”
However, other civic groups that deployed fewer monitors alleged serious and systematic falsifications which they believe determined the election outcome. Some of them reported fraud on election day.
The election was also denounced as fraudulent by the Armenian Bar Association (ABA), a Los-Angeles-based group uniting U.S. lawyers of Armenian descent. A number of its members also monitored the vote.
The ABA chairman, Garo Ghazarian, said they witnessed instances of vote buying and busing of voters to polling stations by the Sarkisian campaign. “I myself was present at some gatherings during which people openly said that they got 5,000-15,000 drams [to vote for Sarkisian,]” he said.
“On behalf of my organization I am saying that this election result does not reflect the will of the people,” declared Ghazarian.