BY GREG BILAZARIAN
With polls now closed in Yerevan, today’s mayoral election has been marred by extensive reports from local and Diasporan observers of intense cheating, interference and violations. The mayoral election, which many had hoped would be a progressive step forward from February’s presidential election, has been described by some observers as a step backward with one calling it “the worst election of the past few years.”
Just minutes before polls closed, the observer website had reported more than 250 election related complaints, with the largest concentration of reports coming in the Sebastia-Malatia district of Yerevan.
Allegations of wrongdoing include –
- Party proxies interfering with the election process, sometimes pretending to represent their opponent’s political party while engaging in illicit activity
- Large crowds gathering around precincts
- Political parties busing crowds from one polling place to another either allowing people to vote twice or to otherwise interfere in the process
More than 100 Diasporan observers joined another trained 160 election observers from civil society organizations, including Transparency International, and spread out all over Yerevan to monitor the election process. In Armenia, election observers have the right to observe the actual counting process. Despite the polls already closing at 8pm Yerevan time, observers are continuing to work well into the night.
More than 800-thousand Yerevan residents were registered to vote, no word yet on voter turnout or when we can expect to learn the results.