Two leading Armenian opposition parties have failed to have election officials recount ballots that were cast in polling stations where they claim vote rigging was particularly serious during Sunday’s constitutional referendum.
Under Armenian law, election commissions can conduct, at the request of their members alleging serious fraud, recounts within three days after the announcement of official results of elections or referendums.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage), the two opposition parties represented in those commissions, demanded recounts in many precincts in and outside Yerevan. They say that referendum results there were falsified through ballot box stuffing or deliberate miscounting of votes.
Election officials representing the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and its allies, the Prosperous Armenia and Dashnaktsutyun parties, lodged a much larger number of recount applications in neighboring precincts despite their leaders’ assertions that the referendum was free and fair.
In virtually all cases, the district-level commissions decided to process the HHK, BHK and Dashnaktsutyun applications first, sparking opposition allegations that the authorities are thus obstructing recounts that would expose evidence of serious fraud.
The commissions failed to recount ballots in more than a dozen precincts in Yerevan when the legal deadline for such procedures expired on Friday afternoon.
The HHK-engineered recount proved scandalous in at least one precinct encompassing a part of the city’s southern Shengavit suburb. A local commission member representing the opposition HAK claimed that his signature on a vote result protocol, which was taken out of a sack filled with marked ballots, is not authentic. He produced a copy of the original protocol which certified 426 votes against and only 154 votes for President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional changes.
The protocol that emerged during the recount showed a diametrically opposite referendum outcome. The pro-government commission members denied that it was forged by them. They claimed that they had “mistakenly” signed the document shown by their opposition colleague.