Long-expected Elections in the Past

And though in some previous post I said that I wouldn’t observe this May 12 parliamentary elections because of my exams two days after it, ultimately the situation was so that firstly I had finished getting prepared for the first exam, and secondly I was needed at some polling stations.

So I got down to monitoring again.

I visited several polling stations and managed to get to one of them before closing and observe the vote tabulation. Well, the overall impression: first of all at the polling station where I was to vote, I had to wait for several minutes for my turn, because it was full of people and more people were coming yet and I can say that same was with other polling stations where I made short visits.

At 6 o’clock I went to the precinct where I was to stay after closing. It turned out that 10 minutes before my arrival the electricity of the polling station as well as the neighboring blocks went off, and it was gloomy indeed in the small room with two windows and small penetration of the sunlight. When once during a training I mentioned about torches which the observers should carry with them, someone said that we are not in 90s anymore and such incidents with electricity do not happen anymore. But it turned out that they do happen. Well, I already alarmed that someone brought a torch, as it was close to the closing hour, but soon at 7:30pm, after several calls by proxies and commission members, it was restored.

Here I should notice, and this is my personal point of view and not necesserily that of It’s Your Choice NGO, that despite the fact that most of the population and the opposition were tearing their throats by screaming that elections were falsified already, I observed rather calm and well organized elections. Of course, we heard about some cases of bickering and irregularities, but however, they couldn’t influence the outcome of elections. In fact, people were coming, being transported by buses or just walking on foot, and I know how representatives of the parties were knocking at the doors asking to go and vote.

There were 1832 voters on the voting list. By the accounts of all the 6 proxies from different parties – Republican, Orinats, Prosperous Armenia, Democratic Path, People’s party – 900 people had cast their vote before closing. The commission determined the number of voters to be 912, but the proxies didn’t argue, because usually that is an insignificant difference, if considered that proxies could miss a person, and especially when they were asking each other if they had to leave the polling station for some 5 minutes or so.

Everything was rather calm and I was keeping quiet, and only once kind of helpingly told them that by law and for having the right result, the void ballots should be counted separately from the vallid envelopes in which they were folded. Well, the point was taken. But soon I realized that the commission members were in a mess and didn’t know how to practically organize the tabulation process. They were extremely slow in counting and defining what and where should go. When the proportional ballots were counted, I asked for the minute, but was told that they would fill in the minutes only after finishing the counting of majoritarian ballots.

This shouldn’t been a problem at all, just the whole problem was that because of lack of knowledge in counting properly and filling the final minutes, the secretary hadn’t done the counting properly and told that she’d give me it without the number of irregularities. It was here that I lost my patience and declared that she had to have filled all the points of the minute each time after having the distinct number, which she didn’t of course, and I left the room to make a call. When I returned I demanded for the minute. She asked whether I could fill it in by myself, to which I answered that sure, I’d write numbers out of top of my head. Of course, now what they wanted most of all was getting rid of me, so someone dictated me the numbers, and the secretary asked me to do the counting of the irregularities, which Is indeed the part where if not practiced, the commission gets stuck in. But I had no choice, It was 4a.m. and I was tired and wanted rest. So I agreed to do even their job just to run away and have some rest.

I should note that the commission was made up of several party representatives who were obviously eager for each of their vote. Out of possible 912 HHK got 311, the majority of votes. It’s proxy was so joyous that ran out of the polling station not even caring for the minute. Surprising was the fact that Heritage got 142 votes, especially when not a proxy and not a party representative was at that polling station. ARF-D member of the commission was crying “Hurraa” with every ballot marked for dashnaktsutyun, which were all in all 89 in number. Rather dumb was the BHK proxy with its 65 votes being only the forth, and almost numb were the Orinats Yerkir proxy and commission member with their 46 voices and 15 void recognized ballots.

And now it is interesting to pay attention to the fact that the overall election results are almost the same as at the polling station I stayed for counting. Isn’t it what everyone were predicting? Of course there were some irregularities, of course the lists were not absolute as usual, of course someone didn’t like how the other one talked, of course some people tried to provoke and many other things like that, but man, face the reality, people bothered themselves to go to elections despite the outloud speculations that apathy prevails and people wouldn’t appear at polling stations.

The other parties got insignificant votes- 1, 2 and even zero, which again comes to proof once more that Armenia does not need that many parties, especially when there is only 4-5 basic ideologies around which the concepts are made and the political programs are diverse formulations of one and the same concept. Incidentally, this point was brought forward during a round table with women representatives of several parties, who asserted that the political programs are almost alike, but couldn’t answer to the IYC member’s question as to why then we need that many parties and why can’t they just leave aside their ambitions and unite, if they really do that much care about this country and its people. Of course, they started justifying themselves after that… it sounded familiar and uninteresting already… Just listen, you failed to unite, there is no opposition, one side is stronger only because of the weakness of the other side. Why to cry out now that elections were falsified when you are guilty if it’s so, that’s your shame, not that of the others, because you failed to provide the polling stations with people, you failed to attract people and if you do not have that power because you are small yet and under some pressure, then why not to seek for allies, why not to unite and come along the same ideology the dimensions of which you have by your own? Because each of you is so sure about its power, or you are too proud to join someone else, or you just wanted your name to be mentioned on the ballots?

…just everyone strive for the throne only. And to be honest, for me now they seem like crying in wilderness… I can’t hear you….


7 Responses to “Long-expected Elections in the Past”

  1. Armenia Poll Round-Up, What the Blogs Say « Hrag Vartanian Says:

    […] Life Around Me also has some first-hand observations (link). […]

  2. Artashes Says:

    Now that you have been there, I have several questions:

    1) Don’t you think it’s extremely suspicious that the light was gone towards the end of the day? How often the light is being gone in that part of the town on usual days (and where was it, by the way?)?

    2) Is it possible that during the light-out time, some people (say, RPA) were able to mess with the ballots in one way or another? In other words, can you absolutely exclude that possibility?

    3) How on earth the chair of the commission and all the others (who went through several training sessions beforehand) were able to count the ballots incorrectly (the voids and envelopes you mentioned)? Are they complete idiots? Every school child should have been able to follow the clear procedures. How do you explain that if they were not certifiable idiots indeed?

    4) Do you really think that the third of the entire population voted for RPA on their FREE will? Do you know what free will means (just for a quick analogy: in the Soviet times we were voting as well, and I remember the elections to be perfectly organized and without any irregularities on the election day. Was it the expression of the FREE will of the people?)? Do you know the definitions of free and fair elections?

    Before ONLY lashing out at the opposition (and they do deserve all the scorn), please acknowledge the ridiculously unfair, uneven, and unfree preelection campaign period and state that elections were not free and fair, and blame the authorities for that! Then only you would be justified in pouring scorn on the pathetic opposition. Do you see my point?

  3. Zarchka Says:

    1) Of course it was suspicious and I had the fear that it would be turned off for the whole night, and that would be something already, that’s why I called to the coordinator asking to bring torches, in any case. But luckily it was restored again. When I said there was small penetration of sunlight, I didn’t mean that it was so dark as not to see people. Not at all, actually, I asked about the light only when I felt that my eyes started aching while reading. Yes, I forgot to mention, it was in Shengavit district, rather close to the place where I live and some one hour or so turn offs do happen sometimes. But I’m not justifying the phenomenon at all.

    2) I do exclude that possibility, as that was already then when I was at the polling station, some 10 minutes after how the electricity was out, and it was still light at 6:00. The proxies were calm with it yet. And till 7:30, when the light was restored, and during my presence there, everything was calm indeed, extremely calm I’m not afraid to say, only some 50 people voted during those one and half hours. And I am quick-eyed enough to notice things that the others do not, don’t doubt it.

    3) regarding the commission, I should mention that they were following the RA Electoral Code during the counting process. All the steps were followed, though the whole process was calm but messy (though remote it may seem) in a sense that they were not able to do primitive calculations, and those took them hours. I characterized it as lack of practice. When I realized it I interfered pointing to the provision in the EC about the way of counting envelopes and void ballots. (I should admit when I was studying the EC it took me long to understand those differences, because it’s very complicated as to which one where should go and how be calculated, this is an innovation which makes the counting process even more tiresome and difficult). At another polling station our observer was invited to do the calculations, because they got messed in numbers, but notice that the observer was trusted to do all the calculations. So, yes, in both cases the commission lacked practice in which case they couldn’t make frauds, which actually needs thorough knowledge on doing final calculations for excluding the number of irregularities.

    4) One third of the population? Hm.. Let’s consider: RPA had the one third of the votes at my polling station, with 6 proxies from other parties, one non-partial observer and 9 representatives of the commission board from different parties again. No complaints or statements were drawn by a single party representative. They all registered 900 voters with the difference of 12 voters. The second with 142 votes was not the pro-governmental party, but Heritage, with no proxy at present there, and BHK was only the 4th after ARF-D. These are the results of just one polling station. You ask about will expression, well, and though I saw no one being forced to vote and not a ballot was deliberately spoiled, nonetheless, IYC observers registered cases when some people would guide the voters. Do u mean in Soviet times people were more keen in falsifying elections? 😉

    Regarding your last point about lashing out at the opposition, first I want you be informed that I consider myself neither pro-governmental nor oppositional, moreover I am rather critical about the government, but now I’m more critical about the opposition. They should not start the fighting if they don’t have the means and are not sure that they will win, and this point was asserted by the representative of Hnchakyans during the round table, whereas Ruzan Khachatryan from Stepan Demirchyan’s party said they are sure that the elections will be falsified. Then what do they separately want to prove? I will not talk about free and fair elections, as IYC has a detailed report about all the irregularities and etc, which were not few, just to mention that in its report IYC states that Armenia yet has a way to go to hold democratic elections. But I do state that these elections were calm and with high turnout as never, and it is a step ahead.

  4. Artashes Says:

    Zarchka, thank you for the detailed and, if I may, mature reply! I could argue with you about a couple of points but overall, you are much more convincing now than when I first encountered you! And I will not bother you any more since you are preparing for the exams. What are they, by the way? School graduation exams, college entrance, or something else? Best wishes!

  5. Global Voices Online » Armenia: More Observation Says:

    […] also observed the Armenian parliamentary vote and reports on her blog. Share […]

  6. Oneworld Multimedia :: Local Observers Assessment Largely Positive :: May :: 2007 Says:

    […] at Life Around Me, Zarchka also posts her experiences. Posted by Onnik @ 2:36 pm. Filed under: Armenia, Democracy, Politics, Diaspora, Blogging, […]

  7. Zarchka Says:

    I’m graduating from the university

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