Wednesday, 26 September

Armenia's Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Publication of Signed Voter Rolls and Live Coverage of Voting

By a vote of 103 to 4, Armenia’s parliament passed a bill that will allow for the publication of signed voter rolls and the live broadcast of parliamentary elections to take place next April.

Four MPs abstained.

According to the changes adopted, scanning of the signed voter rolls will occur at noon one day after election day. Members of local election committees, candidates, proxies, election monitors and the press will be able to follow the scanning process.

Scanning of voter rolls will be performed by Armenia’s Central Election Commission and will show the names and birthdays of voters, their registered addresses, and their corresponding signatures.

The scanned voter rolls will then appear on the Central Election Commission’s website no later than 24 hours after the process begins.

Voting at all polling stations will be broadcast live via a special internet website to be set-up.

Broadcasting the vote will be based on competitive bidding. Ballot boxes and the entrance at each polling station will be captured by fixed cameras.

Also to be shown will be the registration of voters, the handing out of ballots, and the tallying of votes.

Fines for hindering voters at the ballot box and for obstructing election committee members to perform their duties will be increased to a minimum of 700 times one’s salary. The current fine for such violations ranges from 500 to 700 times one’s salary.

The new fine will also be levied against those found hindering the work of authorized press members, proxies and election observers.

Today’s vote also introduced a new article to the criminal code regarding those who make false statements regarding voting in lieu of another or forging the signature of another when presenting such complaints. This article was hotly debated at yesterday’s parliament session.

The opposition wished to differentiate between premeditated false testimony and such testimony due to carelessness.

According to an agreement reached on the matter, the bill differentiated between premeditated and negligent false testimony. Fines will range between 200,000-800,000 AMD or up to two years’ imprisonment. The government had proposed a 2-5 year jail sentence.

Opposition HAK (Armenian National Congress) MP Levon Zurabyan welcomed the vote, saying that Armenia’s citizens had fought for more than fifteen years for the publication of voter rolls.

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