Armenians are heading to the polls to elect a new parliament. Eleven political parties and alliances, including Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step Alliance and former ruling Republican Party, are participating in the parliamentary elections. Follow CivilNet’s Live Blog for updates from polling stations from across Armenia. Thirty-two foreign and 70 local media have registered to cover the elections. Twenty-two local and eight foreign observation missions will monitor the elections.
The preliminary election results are coming in. Watch live here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G1tLmvKpYk
According to the Central Electoral Commission, 48.64 percent of the eligible population voted. In comparison, during the 2017 parliamentary elections, the total voter turnout was 60.86 percent.
The highest voter turnout was in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan with 60.6 percent.
The polls have closed and the process of counting votes has begun.
The General Prosecutor’s office has registered 12 electoral violations that can be considered criminal offenses, as of 6:00 pm. Ten of the cases are for voting multiples times, one is for violation of vote secrecy and one is for obstructing the free will of a voter.
Polls will be closing at 8:00 pm.
The Ministry of Defense of Armenia (MOD) released a statement, saying they received a total of 39 calls as of 5:00 pm, mainly referring to the organization of the elections, the transfer of military servicemen from the military units and the voting of the conscript soldiers. They stated that there have also been reports that soldiers are entering polling stations on a regular basis, but on-site investigations have revealed that this is a misinterpretation. According to the MOD, the matter concerns the organization of the process of entering the electoral precinct in groups.
An independent monitoring group and local partner of Transparency International, "Akanates", has reported 23 electoral violations and is investigating each of them.
As of 5:00 pm, 1,025,002 people had voted, or 39.54 percent, according to the Central Electoral Commission. In the 2017 parliamentary elections, voter turnout was 50.93 percent by the same time.
Transparency International reported that 48 percent of polling stations were not accessible to people with disabilities. They also reported that 8.14 percent of polling stations opened before the designated time of 8:00 am; 81.69 percent opened on time at 8:00 am; 9.83 percent opened between 8:01 am and 8:15 am; 0.34 percent opened after 8:16 am.
An elderly woman who was voting in polling station number 27/28 in Charentsavan was caught with a ballot that was already filled out in advance with Republican party candidates, according to Hetq.am. Policemen arrived at the polling station. After questioning the woman, the policemen said they were preparing an investigation report. Charentsavan is a town and urban municipal community in the Kotayk Province of Armenia.
The first president of the Republic of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrossian, cast his vote and told reporters that he voted "in the name of peace."
"I want to believe that the revolution will win and the old political forces will not appear in our National Assembly, in our political life," said Suren Sahakyan, the top candidates from Citizen’s Decision Social-Democratic Party, after casting his vote.
The Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, Arman Tatoyan, said he has received 37 complaints related to the electoral process as of 3:00 pm. His staff has also investigated about 500 social media posts that mention a number of concerns or violations, all of which will be investigated.
Electoral district number six, which includes the Armavir Province, has had the lowest voter turnout as of 2:00 pm. Armavir is a province in the western part of Armenia and is home to the spiritual center of the country, the Holy Etchmiadzin Armenian Apostolic Church.
According to the Central Electoral Commision of Armenia, as of 2:00 pm, 636,055 people, or 24.53 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots. During the 2017 parliamentary elections, 33.46 percent of eligible voters had cast their votes by the same time.
The President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, has cast his vote.
Former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, who resigned from office during the Velvet Revolution, has cast his vote.
Nikol Pashinyan went live on his Facebook page to call Armenians to participate in the elections and go to the polls.
Read more: Judicial System in Armenia Has Never Been More Independent, says Nikol Pashinyan
A Russian journalist asked Pashinyan to comment on the fact that Kocharyan's arrest was ordered just before the elections. Pashinyan responded, "I will not comment on Kocharyan's detention because this process, the criminal case, started long ago and is in no way connected to the elections. If I'm not mistaken, the process started five months ago."
“The judicial system in Armenia has never been more independent than it is now,” said acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to reporters after casting his vote. "The court system has never been given any instructions regarding Kocharyan’s case. The parts of the leaked telephone conversations that prove this have been cut out, they have been edited. The judicial system of Armenia has never been more independent than it is today.” The Court of Appeals of Armenia ordered the arrest of former President Robert Kocharyan on December 7. Kocharyan was charged on July 26 with overthrowing the constitutional order during the 2008 post-election period.
Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan cast his ballot in Yerevan's Shengavit district.
According to Armtimes.com, the director of Vardenis Homestore has pledged to give employees an extra month's salary if they vote for the Bright Armenia Party. Vardenis is a town and urban municipal community at the southeastern part of the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia.
Read more: Arrest Ordered for Former President Robert Kocharyan
7.76% of eligible voters in Armenia have cast their votes. In numbers, 201,250 people from a total of 2,574,916 eligible voters have participated in the election.
Independent Observer has registered more election violations:
- A back entryway was being used in a voting booth at polling station 32/30 in Armenia's second largest city of Gyumri.
- A vehicle with Prosperous Armenia Party poster was visible near polling station 16/11.
- Crowds have formed at polling station 23/37 in Armenia's third largest city of Vanadzor.
- An individual pretending to be an aid has been present at polling stations 17/01 and 17/03 in Ashtarak.
Election violations at numerous polling stations have been brought forth by Independent Observer:
- Campaign posters are visible on walls at polling station 20/05 in the town of Sevan in the region of Gegharkunik, at polling stations 23/54 and 23/53 in Armenia's northern city of Vanadzor, at polling station 33/20 in the village of Panik in Shirak region.
- My Step Alliance ballots were missing at polling station 22/26 in the village of Lernantsk in Lori region. Voting was temporarily halted.
- At polling station 27/33 in Argel village, voters were choosing their preferred party ballot before entering the voting booth. The president of the electoral commission at the polling station was asked to make an announcement to the voters.
- In two instances, election observers were hindered from taking photos of parts of the voting registration book at polling stations. The incidents were resolved following a call from the office of the regional electoral commission.
Electricity has gone out in polling station 9/52 in Yerevan. Electoral commission members are attempting to find the cause.
Read more: A Simple Breakdown of Armenia’s Voting System
Republican Party of Armenia's top candidate Vigen Sargsyan, Rule of Law Party's top candidate Artur Baghdasaryan, and Sasan Tsrer Party's top candidate Varuzhan Avetisyan have cast their votes in Yerevan.
From his Facebook page, Nikol Pashinyan urges all citizens to head to the polls.
Armtimes.com reports that voting has been temporarily halted at polling station 22/26 in Armenia's northern region of Lori because My Step Alliance ballots are missing.
Watch: How Transparency International Will Be Monitoring Armenia's Parliamentary Elections
2,010 polling stations are now open across the country. Nikol Pashinyan is expected to vote at polling station N 8/16 in Yerevan's 133rd kindergarten at 13:00.