6 դեկտեմբեր, 2015 10:19

Armenia Votes: Referendum Live Blog

constitution Referendum on constitutional reform in Armenia, December 6.

On December 6, a referendum on Constitutional reform is taking place in Armenia. If successful, Armenia, among other changes, will transform from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system of governance. In order for the referendum to be valid, 1/4th or 638,583 of electors will have to participate in the vote.

Four international and 18 local observation missions will be monitoring the vote. They include the CSI mission (44 observers), CSI Inter-Parliamentary Commission (23 observers), PACE (11 observers), OSCE/ODIHR (5 observers).

Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center has initiated a Citizen Observer Mission and has deployed over 1000 observers throughout Armenia to monitor the process of the vote. Follow their Twitter feed on @TI_Armenia and CivilNet @CivilNetTV to get live updates with the hashtag #ArmRef15 and #CitizenObserver.

CivilNet’s crews are working in the capital Yerevan and in the regions of the country. CivilNet will be live blogging the process of the vote throughout the day.

December 7

18:00 

Rally at Liberty Square organized by the NO campaign to protest the results of the referendum.

14:05

During the referendum on constitutional amendments, the regional branches of Armenia’s Investigative Committee received 127 reports of electoral violations, the majority of which related to reports disseminated by the media, according to the Committee.

79 reports of violations were from Yerevan, and 48 were from the regions.

Thus, the Shirak regional Investigative Department received 19 complaints; the marz of Lori registered 14 complaints; Aragatsotn 4; the marzes of Ararat, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, Syunik, Kotayk Investigation Departments received two complaints each and one was registered in the marz of Armavir.

The complaints in Yerevan came from Avan and Nor Nork administrative districts - 24 cases in total. There were 15 reports from the Malatia-Sebastia administrative district,  9 from Ajapnyak and Davtashen, 8 from Kanaker-Zeytun, 7 from Downtown and Nork-Marash, 6 from Shengavit, and 5 each from Arabkir, Erebuni and Nubarashen administrative districts.

The Investigative Committee said that an investigation has been launched in all the cases and all would be assessed in accordance with the law.

Two criminal cases, arising from an investigation, were already initiated on December 6 regarding voting in place of someone else under Article 153 of the Criminal Code.

The Citizen Observer Mission, which encompasses Transparency International ACC, Europe in Law Association, Journalists Asparez Club and Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office NGOs, summed up the results of the referendum. The initiative carried out its monitoring mission by some 1,000 observers.

12:20

The range of systemic violations should be directed toward more useful methods, such as running the country effectively said one of the observers. "There is potential to improve Armenia," said one of the international observers.

Regarding Armenia's international standing in the face of yet another falsified election, Artur Sankunts said that it is more important how the people of Armenia view their leadership and their country. "There are two Armenias - one that Serzh Sargsyan represents and the other made up of citizens," Sakunts said.

12:00 noon

Transparency International's Citizen Observer Mission press conference continues at the Media Center in Yerevan. Organizers say that criminal proceedings must be initiated based on the hundreds of videos that captured violations. They also said that some observers (and their parents) were threatened that if they do move forward with criminal charges, leading to the conviction of members of electoral commissions, they would lose their jobs.

The violations not only occurred inside the polling stations, but also outside the precincts - both prior and following the actual vote.

11:50

940 violations were registered by Transparency International Citizen Observer Mission during the course of the vote. Observers were not only intimidated, they were also offered bribes. This mission's advantage, according to organizers, was that all the violations that were recorded are all backed up by facts; they say that the Central Electoral Commission must take this into account before attempting to sweep the violations under the rug. "We have enough facts to back up our words," Artur Sakunts of the Vanadzor Helsinki Assembly said during the press conference.

11:45

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.49.06 AM Tigran Yegoryan.

Tigran Yegoryan of the Citizen Observer Mission said that 1000 observers were deployed throughout the country. Thanked all the observers who participated in the difficult process of observing the vote. "About the violations, I must say, that the entire palette of violations was revealed during the vote...this time it was possible to factually prove and reveal the systemic essence of the violations," Yegoryan said. Power structures also took part in the violations, including ballot stuffing, voter registration list manipulation, disrupting the vote, shutting off the electricity and other methods of vote rigging. Polling stations in close proximity in districts and villages had wildly different results, leading the mission to believe that vote rigging was rampant. "Observers were prevented from getting close to the voter's list at polling stations," Yegoryan continued.

11:40

Live press conference continues:

Citizen observers say numerous violations across all poll stations. Cases where voters were asked to take a photo of their ballot to guarantee that citizens voted Yes in the referendum. Several times, commission heads stopped the count in many polling stations in violation of the electoral code. "We cannot accept the results of the referendum as legitimate," one of the observers said.

11:30

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.33.19 AM Data collected from polling stations.

Transparency International Citizen Observer Mission is giving a live press conference. Organizers say that they have never seen such pressure and violations against observers in previous elections in Armenia. Due to the high number of violations, both physical and intimidation, against observers and voters do not reflect the free will of the people. Head of electoral commissions did not intercede to alleviate those violations and this is seen as further proof that the elections do not meet international standards. There were cases of ballot stuffing in several precincts. Polling stations with low turnout have different results from those with high turnouts, "Looks like two Armenias," one of the organizers said. Physical data shows that distortion in voting is great and alarming according to the mission.

9:00

The Central Electoral Commission has released the results from all 1997 polling stations across the country for ‪#‎ArmRef15‬ 825,622 (63.35%) YES 421,593 (32.35%) NO

24:00

The CEC has issued preliminary results from the referendum vote from 75 polling stations: 18,006 YES and 4797 NO

22:30

Gala TV reports preliminary results from 34 polling stations: YES - 4359 NO - 7128

22:39

 22:10

Preliminary results from the marz of Shirak show that the YES vote is losing ground. In many polling stations the NO vote is winning.

22:00

CivilNet's reporter in polling station 9/27 in Noragyugh says that the count has not yet begun. "They are doing everything to ensure that observers leave the polling station," the journalist reported.

21:45

CivilNet’s reporter says in polling stations 8/27, 8/28, 8/29 in the Malatia-Sebastia district, journalist and observer Mamikon Hovsepyan said that he has seen a room where people were gathered, none of them being an observer or members of the committee. When he informed police about the suspicious behavior, they began an argument with him to distract attention. Mamikon Hovsepyan has livestreamed the scuffle on Ustream. The video will be up soon.

21:30

Protesters of the "NO" camp are marching toward Central Electoral Commission.

21:15

Proxy Shushan Vardanyan at polling station 4/34 (School N. 78) informed CivilNet that after the poll was closed a number of young men without badges entered the building and began to verbally insult her in an attempt to get her to leave. Shushan Vardanyan said that she has been restricted from filming or talking on the phone. She said that she is sitting near the ballot box and the count has not yet begun. The president of the local electoral commission has given everyone a one hour break.

21:10

The Central Electoral Commission has published results of the vote so far. As of 20:00, 1,296,368 (50.1% percent) have already taken part in the referendum on Constitutional reform in Armenia. In the capital Yerevan, 388 506 (36.1 percent) voters have already cast their ballot. Aragatsotn region 61 451  voters or 53.26 percent Ararat region 144 452 voters or 66.33 percent Armavir region 127 701 voters or 55.63 percent Gegharkunik region 98 993  voters or 52.69  percent Lori region 110 054  voters or 46.23 percent Kotayk region 123 044 voters or 46.23 percent Shirak region 95 171 voters or 41.28 percent Syunik region 66 786 voters or 61.02percent Vayots Dzor region 27 327 voters or 57.96 percent Tavush region 52 883 voters or 48.30 percent

20:55

As of 6:30 p.m., 825 prisoners had taken part in the constitutional referendum, Justice Ministry Penitentiary Service Structure Analysis and International Cooperation Division, Justice Colonel Hayk Kochinyan told the reporters at the meeting at the Central Electoral Commission.

20:30

Transparency International informed CivilNet that in polling stations 9/27 and 9/28 in Noragyugh at around 18:10 - 18:40 the situation was very tense. The Citizen Observers of Transparency International had to leave the polling station half an hour prior to the closing of the station. Cases of ballot stuffing, multiple voting (voting in place of someone else), as well as insults, threats and violence against a journalist at the 9/27 polling station.

20:00

Polls are now closed. The No front has begun a protest in Yerevan's Liberty Square. Heritage Party's Armen Martirosyan addressing the crowd now.

18:35

CivilNet’s journalist has reported that at polling station 4/01 in the Arabkir district, there was a physical confrontation between two observers and a number of proxies. The RPA and Rule of Law proxies have beaten up Romik Danial and Hakob Nazar-Dekhnavi. Danial’s camera was confiscated by the RPA representative and not returned. Apparently, the observers had noticed a number of violations and had complained about them. The proxies have stated that the proxies had disrupted the electoral process. CivilNet’s report will be up on the site shortly.

18:30

CivilNet’s reporter in Gyumri has reported that the Tekstil district is completely out of power, which can create favorable conditions for violations. The presidents of the district electoral commissions have said that they are unaware of the causes of the power failure. According to information received from Gyumri, No. 20 school polling station is also out of power.  

18:15

The Central Electoral Commission has published results of the vote so far. As of 5:00 p.m., 1,005, 333 (39.17 percent) have already taken part in the referendum on Constitutional reform in Armenia. In the capital Yerevan, 305,368 (36.1 percent) voters have already cast their ballot. Aragatsotn region 48 595 voters or 42.12 percent Ararat region 110 020 voters or 50.52 percent Armavir region 92 277 voters or 40.2 percent Gegharkunik region 75 493 voters or 40.18 percent Lori region 87 709  voters or 36.85 percent Kotayk region 92 478 voters or 39.26 percent Shirak region 73 370 voters or 31.82 percent Syunik region 55 937 voters or 51.11 percent Vayots Dzor region 21 282 voters or 45.14 percent Tavush region 42 804 voters or 39.1 percent

17:10

CivilNet has received another complaint by 18-year-old Mane Galstyan who says that when she went to her polling station 9/32 in Shengavit, someone had already voted in her place. The local electoral commission has said that a mistake was made and she was allowed to vote via another list. 17:10 CivilNet's reporter has just called in that an observer from Transparency International has been beaten up in Arabkir district at polling station 4/1 by Republican Party and Country of Law party reps. Sending out another crew.

16:20

The website of Armenia’s Prosecutor General writes that action is being taken by their office with regard to numerous media reports about instances containing elements of criminal activity such as limiting the right to vote, electoral process obstruction, etc.

15:50

An observer from polling station 10/31 in Yerevan reports that people have come to the station claiming to be observers from the Heritage Party. Upon discover they are escorted out of the precinct.

15:45

CivilNet’s reporter in Gyumri has reported of yet another case of election fraud at 34/01 polling station of Ani district in Gyumri. Roza Matilyan came to vote only to find out that someone has already voted in her place. The head of the local electoral commission Grisha Hambaryan made assurances that it must have been a misunderstanding. They are now trying to file a complaint and give Matilyan the right to cast her vote with additional lists.

15:40

Gyumri Protocol2 Filed complaint in Gyumri.

CivilNet's film crew in Gyumri reports of a violation at polling station 34/19 where Robert Grigoryan discovers that someone has voted in place of his daughter-in-law, who lives in Russia. The president of the precinct electoral commission, Lamaran Minasyan said that there must have been an error. Our reporter says that at the time of the incident, there were no observers except one from the Heritage Party present at the polling station. At the request of Robert Grigoryan and CivilNet’s crew, a complaint was filed but the Heritage observer refuses to sign the complaint noting that he hadn’t seen the violation.  

15:28

Transparency International posts a video of how a reporter is attacked and camera destroyed at polling station 10/20 by Republican Party proxy.

15:10

The Central Electoral Commission has published results of the vote so far. As of 2:00 p.m., 622, 643 voters (24.26 percent) have already taken part in the referendum on Constitutional reform in Armenia.

In the capital Yerevan, 196 596 (23.24 percent) voters have already cast their ballot.

Aragatsotn region 30 019 voters or 26.02 percent Ararat region 66 341 voters or 30.46 percent Armavir region 57 391 voters or 25 percent Gegharkunik region 43 721 voters or 23.27 percent Lori region 52 333 voters or 21.98 percent Kotayk region 54 769 voters or 23.25 percent Shirak region 43 359 voters or 18.81 percent Syunik region 37 073 voters or 33.87 percent Vayots Dzor region 13 321 voters or 28,25 percent Tavush region 27 720 voters or 25.72 percent

15:00

According to Transparency International’s Citizen Observer mission, as of 13:00 there were 555 violations reported, 335 of which had to do with the actual voting process. Of these violations: 36 were violations of maintaining ballot secrecy 27 were attempts at voting in place of someone else 21 violations were registered with profanity, pressure, threats and physical violence 6 were of ballot stuffing 5 were passing out of voter bribes

14:55

Hetq.am reports that at Arabkir’s 5/28 polling station, the Republican Party proxy Artur Khurshudyan entered the precinct, approached Hetq's reporter and shouted that the reporters were interfering with the process of the vote. Artur Khurshudyan then confiscated Hetq reporter Diana Ghazaryan’s computer that she was using to update the news. While the reporter tried to film the Republican Party proxy who threatened her and confiscated her computer, he left the polling station, taking the computer with him.

14:50

Transparency International reports that the man in the photos below voted twice wearing different pieces of clothing.

14:30

Transparency International's Citizen Observer: At 10/15 polling station in Yerevan (Yervand Kochar 12/1) a voter says that while signing the voting list, he has noticed signatures in front of his brother’s and the wife’s names in their absence. He has informed the Committee, but they have not recorded the violation. 14:20

According to the press service of Armenia’s police, as of 11:00 a.m., police have responded to 27 complaints, three of which were received via the hotline set up for the purpose of voting violations, two of which are from local electoral bodies and another 22 from the Internet. The majority of the complaints have to do with bussing in voters to polling stations, obstructing the work of journalists, obstructing the work of observers and attempts at passing out bribes. The Police also issued a statement about Zaruhi Postanjyan’s announcement: “On December 6, at 12:00 pm, the police received a complaint and was informed that A. Kh. called from the “No” front campaign office and informed them that the Republicans are distributing money at School N. 114 on Alaverdyan Street, near polling station No. 20 and physically attacked Zaruhi Postanjyan, Member of Parliament from the Heritage Party.  Zaruhi Postanjyan stated that no assaults were carried out, and refused to give an explanation. No information was given by others about money distribution."

14:05

CivilNet’s crew in Gyumri visited 7-8 polling stations, talked to the Committee heads, according to whom voter participation is quite low compared to the presidential elections. The proxies are saying the situation is normal and calm but have concerns about the events unfolding outside the polling stations. Suspicions and rumors are circulating that people are being brought to vote with organized lists; there are reports of election bribes, however they have not been confirmed. According to CivilNet's reporter, a number of alarms were raised in the Artsakh district in Gyumri, but nothing unusual was registered.  According to unconfirmed news from the Artsakh district, state employees are being given colored pens as they go to vote. The journalists are working unhindered at this time.

13:55

  13:15

12308626_730199353747201_7866480781641949597_n State-owned ambulances at polling stations, Artashat.

12289586_730199373747199_2619815558614784861_n Voters coming to precincts in ambulances.

CivilNet’s crew caught an image of an ambulance parked at polling station 17/10 & 17/11 in Artashat. When asked by our reporter why they were sitting in the minibus, the women said that they had come to take part in the vote. When asked why they had come in ambulances, they said that it was ‘private’ vehicle. The women said they had come with their neighbors to the precinct. The image of the ambulance with state registered license plates was taken by CivilNet.

13:15

13:10

Ohanyan Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan.

Armenia's Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan votes at electoral precinct 114. Updates and reports to come.

12:50

Screen shot 2015-12-06 at 1.05.09 PM Armenia's first President Levon Ter Petrosyan casts his ballot in referendum vote.

12:45

The first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan has cast his vote on the referendum.  "I call on all our people to come and vote, freely, without force and of their will. And one thing I know for sure - the more people, real people come to vote, I repeat - real people come to vote, the more objective the referendum results will be," Levon Ter-Petrosyan told reporters after the vote.

12:38

12:30

75 taxi Route 75 minibus transporting voters.

Civilnet’s reporter says the Route 75 minibus is continually transporting voters to 4/13 polling station, at School N. 151, which is resulting in accumulation of people at the station. The Committee head, in violation of the law, is not allowing reporters to enter. The reporters can enter only by his permission.

12:20

The Central Electoral Commission has published results of the vote so far. As of 11:00 a.m. 201,259 voters (7.84 percent) have already taken part in the referendum on Constitutional reform in Armenia. In the capital Yerevan, 66,040 (7.81 percent) voters have already cast their ballot. Aragatsotn region - 8249 voters or 7.15 percent Ararat region - 23886 voters or 10.97 percent Armavir region - 20863 voters or 9.9 percent Gegharkunik region - 14050 voters or 7.48 percent Lori region -  13135 voters or 5.5 percent Kotayk region - 18520 voters or 7.86 percent Shirak region - 10432 voters or 4.52 percent Syunik region - 13160 voters or 12.2 percent Vayots Dzor region - 3802 voters or 8.6 percent Tavush region - 9122 voters or 8.30 percent

12:15

Hovik Abrahamyan PM Hovik Abrahamyan speaking to reporters after casting his ballot.

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan casts his ballot in the referendum, says he his voting for "stable development" of the country. "I am convinced this day is a good day for the people, we have done everything for this referendum to be free, transparent and have encouraged our team members to be impartial, not to provide unsolicited service, not to provoke, to ensure transparent voting. Let the people decide 'yes' or 'no'," he said. Answering journalists' question whether he is ready to leave the post after the change of the system of governance, Hovik Abrahamyan said. "I am now Prime Minister, and I hope that I will be Prime Minister in the future as well."

11:55

From Transparency International's Citizen Observer: Polling station 35/34, Gyumri, School number 3, there are pens with vanishing ink in the voting booth. A video will be shortly up about polling station 01/08 where the local electoral committee head is attacking the Asparez Daily Newspaper representative, hindering the video recording.

11:30

CivilNet's journalist says that two representatives of "Europe in Law Association" Human Rights NGO reported accumulations of 25-30 people at 8/25 polling station.  One member of the NGO said that some of the people from this group were seen operating in a similar manner during the previous election.

11:23 Twitter user @Romanik_ posts photos of what he says is ballot stuffing at 16/42 polling station.

11:20

11:10

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 11.34.20 AM copy President Serzh Sargsyan voting in the referendum.

President Serzh Sargsyan and first lady Rita Sargsyan cast their vote at the 9/11 polling station in Yerevan. Serzh Sargsyan avoided answering questions from journalists, saying he will answer questions once the vote is completed.

11:07

11:00

The Head of the Heritage Party Raffi Hovhannisian went to cast his ballot at 11:00 a.m. He tore up his ballot in front of reporters and said that he was doing it "In the name of the Republic of Armenia." He told reporters that voter lists need to be published. Speaking of the YES campaign by the authorities, Hovhannisian said “Today starting from committee heads to governors and mayors to village mayors, they are fueling the anti-Armenian machine of lies and frauds, which has nothing in common with our values, Constitution and Armenian citizens.You’ll find me at the Liberty Square tonight after 8pm.”

10:45

CivilNet’s crew reports that an argument broke out between a Citizen Observer from Transparency International and the president of the local electoral commission at Malatya-Sebastia’s 8/27 polling station. The observer demanded to see voters list, however members of the electoral commission obstructed and did not allow the observer to see them.

10:40

Past.am reports that Vigen Davtyan, the representative of the youth wing of the Democratic Way party has raised an alarm about stuffing at polling station 6/25 in Kasakh. According to Davtyan, the 6/25  polling station Election Commission Chairman Narek Mkrtchyan is the one who did the stuffing, with one of the committee members stamping the envelopes. Vigen Davtyan broke the box with the stuffed ballots. No. 6 constituency polling station officials arrived and replaced the broken box with a new one. According to Vigen Davtyan, the members of election commission refused to count ballots in the ballot box to compare with the list of signatures. Vigen Datyan reported crime and a complaint was filed. Davtyan also informed past.am that all the members of the committee are Kasakh village municipality officers, carrying out the orders of the mayor. Narek Mkrtchyan is the head of the village municipality administration, a Republican party member and the Kasakh village mayor’s nephew.

10:30

Citizen Observer reports that at the 9/11 polling station, where journalists were not allowed to be present earlier, as of 9: 48, after a number of disputes the electoral committee president allowed the journalists to enter. However, their rights were violated for 40 minutes,  which is a crime under Article 164 of the RA Criminal Code “Hindrance to the legal professional activities of a journalist.” This is the station where the President is expected to cast his vote.

10:14

As of 10:07, Transparency International’s Citizen Observer Mission reports the following violations: 1. The members of precinct commissions are obstructing the work of observers and media representatives, prohibiting them from free movement in the area, watching the documents of the voters and the records for ballots, and to make sure that the voter gets his ballot. 2. In several polling stations, using the quality of the seal of Asparez Daily and the certificate of Asparez Editor in Chief as an excuse, they have tried to ask them to leave the precinct, regardless of the fact that their certificates were sealed on both sides.   3. In several precincts, the presidents of local electoral commissions are trying to hinder the presence of Asparez Daily  and www.asparez.am website representatives, stating that they belong to the same media organization. They are refusing to acknowledge that those two are different media.

10:10 

Transparency International’s Citizen Observer Mission reports that at 9:30 a.m., because President Serzh Sargsyan will be voting at polling station 9/11, the local electoral commission president of the precinct forced several representatives of news organizations to leave the building, even though they had presented their credentials to the commission and had registered as media. The president of the commission said that those media present should have been accredited by the President’s office. According to Transparency International, this is a crime according to Article 149 of Armenia’s criminal code, which states that any obstacle to the rights of a voter, and the ability of the electoral commission or those participating in the electoral process will be punished by law.

10:05

"Let the Sefilyans and others calm down. This country will have no brawling," Vladimir Gasparyan said  a group of journalists today, December 6, after voting in the constitutional referendum at No. 9/14 polling station, referring to the protests and calls for regime change at Liberty Square. He added that any deviation from law will be punished quickly and very strictly. 

9:55 

12308189_10203792843701688_6342928537674094685_o Minibuses in front of Artashat City Hall.

Five  minibuses are parked in front of the Ararat Province governor’s office and the Artashat Municipality buildings. The license plates have been concealed with white paper; one of the minibuses has Yerevan Mall written on its window. CivilNet’s camera filmed the #4 minibus.  When CivilNet's reporter tried to approach the drivers, they left the cars and walked away. A few minutes later, they approached the cars running and drove away in haste. The video will be up shortly.

9:48 

As of 09:48 a.m., Transparency International's Citizen Observer initiative has noted several violations in a series of precincts in Gyumri, Hrazdan, and Yerevan. Ballot stuffing, multiple voting, clusters of people and cars have been observed. 9:00 Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center reports that a number of voting stations are inaccessible for people with disabilities.

December 5

Four taxi companies refused to transport the observers of Transparency International election monitoring team to the precincts at 7 am. Preliminary agreements had been made but at the last minute, with the exception of one were cancelled.. One of the representatives of the taxi companies said all their taxis are in Tbilisi at the moment, the other said they would not be working on Sunday. The names of the taxi services are Taxi Lada (010 56 90 90), Taxi Aqua (010 20 00 90), Taxi Ani (010 36 51 00).