The Central Election Commission (CEC) and two leading opposition groups made on Friday differing interpretations of vote recounts that have been conducted at nearly one hundred precincts in Yerevan following the May 5 municipal elections.
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Barev Yerevan bloc demanded earlier this week that ballots be recounted in 162 of the city’s 462 polling stations. Only 97 of these petitions were accepted by the CEC and its territorial divisions.
The CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, said the recounts essentially did not change the number of votes received by these and other election contenders in those precincts. He described this as further proof that the official election results giving a landslide victory to the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) are credible.
“These indicators are quite telling,” Mukuchian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They testify to the fact there was nothing extraordinary in ballot recounts conducted in 97 precincts.”
Both the HAK and Barev Yerevan, which reject the CEC figures as fraudulent, claimed that the recounts exposed other evidence of vote rigging.
“The government’s propaganda machine is trying to distort the purpose of our recount demands,” said Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman. “We did not demand recounts to have the election results changed in any way. We are 100 percent sure that both multiple and bribed voters showed up and voted the way the Republican Party wanted them to.”
“We do realize that recounts alone would not change that. We just wanted to gain and publicize evidence of this large-scale crime,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Zurabian explained that the HAK wanted to get access to election commission records showing the names of Yerevan residents who ostensibly cast ballots on May 5. He said the recounts exposed the fact that many of them are absent from Armenia.
According Zurabian, the opposition party collected dozens of documented example of such fraud and other violations and will ask prosecutors to open criminal cases. In addition, the HAK will ask Armenia’s Administrative Court to declare the overall election results null and void.
Stepan Safarian, a senior member of Barev Yerevan, made a similar point, saying that the opposition bloc had names of many absent voters in several electoral districts and wanted to check whether somebody else voted in their place. “I know of at least two or three cases of voting on behalf of absent citizens,” he said. “They will be sent to the police or prosecutors. This is a very serious violation.”