OF THE EU EaP CSF ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM
On the Primary Joint Demands Related to the RA Electoral Code
March 24, 2016
EU EaP Civil Society Forum Armenian National Platform, which unites more than 200 Armenian civil society organizations, expresses its solidarity with the process aimed at ensuring public engagement in the discussions on the RA new Electoral Code and as a result of the CSF ANP member organizations’ online vote, joins the statement, prepared by a number of NGOs, on the 5 most crucial demands related to the RA draft Electoral Code (see below).
Primary Joint Demands Related to the Electoral Code
Taking into account the most widespread types of election fraud registered during the elections in Armenia in the recent years (especially the Constitutional referendum), the lack of public confidence towards electoral processes, as well as the content of the Electoral Code submitted to the National Assembly, we, the undersigned organizations, consider that a real change in the quality of electoral processes can happen only in case the following crucial mechanisms (all the 5) are included (amended) in the Electoral Code:
- Publication of the lists signed by the voters (lists of voting participants).
- Cleaning voter lists by using the practice of neighboring Georgia. In particular, citizens who are not in the republic should be identified, and there should be a special note about their absence from the republic next to their names in the voter lists.
- Holding parliamentary elections by proportional representation system with simple (closed) national proportional electoral lists, excluding the application of district and preferential (ranked choice) electoral lists.
- Video recording of the whole process of voting and vote count in the polling stations by at least 5 quality cameras (as a responsibility of the state). The video cameras will target the ballot box, the process of voter registration and allocation of ballot papers, the polling station and its entrance.
- Application of fingerprint identification system or introduction of finger inking practice (including ink invisible to the naked eye) for voter identification.
- Publication of the lists with voting participants’ signatures is the best mechanism for preventing double-voting as everybody will have the opportunity to check the absence of a signature next to the names of persons who are absent from the republic after the voting. Members of the precinct electoral commissions will realize that if they give a person the right to vote instead of another person, it may be easily revealed later on. Publication of the voting participants’ lists is our most important demand. We consider that it should be published not only in the polling station, in a visible place, but also be digitalized and have a search possibility in the internet.
- For this purpose, it is also important to have a special note in the voter lists about the absence of the citizen from the republic. This will give the opportunity to mainly concentrate on these cases, when there is a signature testifying voting participation in front of the name with such a note. This model has been applied with great success in Georgia.
- Cases of voting instead of other persons are not limited to voting instead of citizens absent from the republic. Thus, we find that in case of satisfying the requirements mentioned in the other points here, introduction of voters’ fingerprint identification equipment (which will have the database including the fingerprints of all the people included in the voter list) can be an additional preventive measure. As an alternative to this system, we can consider acceptable the voting participants’ finger inking with an ink that is invisible to the naked eye and that will disappear the next day.
- We are convinced that the district preferential electoral lists will yield the possibility of including local (including criminal) “authorities”, heads of communities and establishments in these lists. In order to elect the aforementioned people, the voters will have to cast their vote for the political party representing these people. Here we should also consider the fact that Armenia is not a federation and does not face the issue of equally representing the interests of different regions in Parliament equally and on a competitive basis, and the issues discussed in Parliament almost always have a national character. Return to the simple (closed) proportional list will also eliminate all the issues with the use of colored ballot papers proposed in the Draft.
- As is known, very often irregularities are registered in the polling stations that are difficult to prove. Those irregularities include ballot stuffing, inhibiting the activity of observers, journalists and proxies, falsification of voting results, taking voted ballot papers out of the polling station, overcrowding, and etc. We consider installation of cameras (by the state) in the polling stations the best way to prevent and more easily prove and reveal such irregularities. The cameras will not only collect the recorded material but will also broadcast it in the internet. In each polling station, 1 camera should control the entrance to the polling station from the outside, 1 camera should be allocated for the ballot box and the member of the committee responsible for it, 2 cameras should control the committee members who register the voters and give the ballot papers, and 1 camera should control the whole polling station. During the vote count, the 4 cameras (except for the one controlling the entrance from the outside) should be rearranged in such a way so that they reflect the whole process of vote count (the processes of taking out the envelopes from the ballot box, opening them, examining the ballot papers, distributing the ballot papers into groups, preparation of the final voting results protocol, signing and packaging of election documents).
At the meeting a discussion took place on the role and engagement of the Platform in the process of development of the new Electoral Code.
The participants also emphasized the necessity of the active participation of CSF Armenian National Platform in the public hearings on the new Electoral Code, as well as the importance of presenting a united position of civil society in the negotiations with RA authorities. A statement, prepared by several NGOs on the new Electoral Code was put to the online vote and passed. The participants also discussed the WG1 priorities for 2016.
On March 18-20, 2016 Yerevan Press Club with the support of Armenian Branch of Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a seminar in Aghveran on the “Integration Processes of Armenia in the Current Geopolitical Environment”. The seminar was attended by diplomats and representatives of Armenian NGOs and media.
In her opening speech Julia Bläsius, South Caucasus Regional Director of Friedrich Ebert Foundation welcomed the participants, stressing the importance of the activity of civil society representatives in such initiatives.
Afterwards, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski made a presentation on “The Process and Perspectives of EU-Armenia Relations”, in particular touching upon the process of new Framework Agreement, the priorities of EU-Armenia partnership, as well as the possibility of visa liberalization. Bernhard Matthias Kiesler, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany to Armenia, spoke on the migrant issue in Europe, focusing on the policy of Federal Republic of Germany in this regard.
At the second session of the seminar Daniel Ioannisyan, Project Coordinator at “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO introduced in his report the economic indicators of Armenia’s accession to EaEU for the Year 2015. Yerevan Press Club Project Coordinator, PhD Haykak Arshamyan’s report was devoted to the RA integration processes in the agenda of Armenian political parties.
“The Information Component of RA Integration Processes” was the topic of Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardian’s report. The last report of the seminar was introduced by Anush Sedrakyan, who spoke on the current situation in the countries that signed the EU EaP Association Agreement, drawing parallels with Armenia. All the presentations were followed by active discussions and question and answers.