The Predetermined Win, a Worthy Contender, and the Hashtag Hijacking

Let’s start with the initial statistics. There are 2,505,980 eligible voters in Armenia according to the information provided by the Armenian police. The numbers are almost definitely inflated, considering these figures would probably include children and/or repatriates and refugees holding only a special visa without voting rights. A total of 1,988 polling stations across Armenia opened at 8.00 am Monday for a 12-hour balloting to choose the next president of the country.

The incumbent was show to have taken the crown once more in the sample exit polls with a 58% lead. Hovhannisyan, having utilized a more active Western-style campaign, managed to earn himself a whopping 32%. Bagratyan took home 3% of the vote, tied with Hayrikyan, whereas Ghukasyan, Setrakyan and Melikyan earned 1% each. This, however, is only 99% of the votes, so I’m assuming the missing 1% was blank or entirely random names, such as “Chuck Norris” as we’ve seen on previous ballots. Note: This is only the representative sample of about 2000 individuals to determine the end result. 

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The true numbers began trickling in at around 11 am Eastern Time. Within a few hours, the news coverage of the polls went haywire and each portal presented different numbers.

True Results: 

  1. Serj Sarkisian: 58.64%
  2. Raffi Hovhanissian: 36.75%
  3. Hrant Bagratyan: 2.15%
  4. Paruyr Hayrikyan: 1.23%
  5. Andreas Ghukasyan: 0.57%
  6. Vardan Sedrakyan: 0.42%
  7. Arman Melikyan: 0.24%

Of course, there are some more humorous takes on the voting process:

votes2

More such images were posted by News.am- http://news.am/eng/news/140816.html

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It was, I hear, one of the most apathetic voting seasons yet. Of course, Serj Sarkisian had been boasting about winning the elections from over a week ago, a predetermined victory few, if any, had doubts about. He continued to do so throughout the vote count process. Speaking to journalists yesterday after having voted himself, Sarkisian said he cast his ballot “for Armenia’s future, for prosperous Armenia, for the wealth of our citizens and our families.” Now, if this was the case, I would have no problems. His platform appears pretty, though there were better platforms prepared. Hrant Bagratyan’s platform looked to be most geared towards the socio-economic problems prevailing within the country, which appealed to me moreso than the rest. Only a few had viable platforms available, of course, which leads me to question why they would even run for a position in the first place if their aim is not to win? It only hinders the chances of a more suitable candidate, hurting the democratic process instead of appearing to be fair. Furthermore, it placed a whopping extra 40 million+ AMD in the pockets of the government.

Inserting some lighthearted news into the mix, though Raffi didn’t win the elections:

Votes1

I must commend Raffi’s Western-style efforts to break the mould and establish a better system in our country. Truth be told, his efforts were not in total vain. The gap in the official vote counts are surprisingly not as wide as originally predicted, a minor victory for those who yearn to see a fair and free democratic Armenia.

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Armenia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office says it has received several complaints from opposition groups claiming violations of elections regulations at some polling stations, to which the president has not given a proper comment. It’s nothing new, of course. iDitord has covered the fraudulent practices in depth, urging the citizens of Armenia to report any and all suspicious activity.

  • The first clamours of fraud came from Avan and then all over the country, where the stamp placed on the passport of voters, which should disappear in 12 hours, can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Video evidence can be seen hereBallot Stuffing is a crime and an electoral fraud punished in the Westernmost of countries, but it’s no phenomenon in Armenia, a country influenced by the Great Mother Russia to this day, the King of Electoral Fraud.
  • Next in line was news from Avan where the ballot box was found to have a slit underneath, to be used for ballot stuffing. According to reports, such boxes are said to be around the country and election observers were urged to ensure more such cases would be dealt with.
  • News emerged about Akhourian’s sugar factory workers being bussed to Yerevan by Samuel Alexanyan, having been given ballots on which Sarkisian’s name has already been ticked off. Concerned individuals were powerless to stop the vehicles with license plates belonging to the ruling party. These individuals were party to electoral manipulation and possible economic threats. 
  • Raffi Hovhanissian’s Facebook page points to some rather gruesome examples of fraud. In Vanatsor, a family of 3 was given 30,000 AMD to vote for Sarkissian, an example of vote buying. However, when the woman died suddenly the day before, the little minions arrived to take back the 10,000 bribe money, adding salt to the wound and rubbing cruelly. At one of the voting stations, as an example of misleading the public, the choice of candidates was placed so high up, it was nigh impossible to read for most. In another one of the villages, with a higher dose of vote buying, the staff employed at 2 different kindergartens were given 25,000 AMD by Samuel Alexanyan to vote in favour of the incumbent president. In Erebuni, citizens calmoured warnings about door-to-door vote buying. In Lori, 5,000 AMD were handed out to buy votes. In a gross representation of electorate manipulation, the governor of Agarak was advised to vote for the 300 citizens missing from the village in favour of the ruling party. In Yerevan, this type of fraud continues with the names of those who have left the country still being placed on the electoral lists. In Tashir, evidence of ballot stuffing has been found by a member of the Heritage Party. In 3-rt Mas, Ashot Arevshatyan has been seen walking around with an electoral list, offering bribes. Karatsor’s mayor, Arayig Matinyan, has been found to be ballot stuffing and directing votes. Warnings were given about suspicious appearing taxis parked before the voting station at Ajarian School. Countless other such disturbing events have been reported from all over the country, from every province. Check out the Facebook page for a list of 53 specific reports, including those mentioned here.
  • Video recordings have been made of attempts at fraud, as seen here
  • In Ararad, there were 1300 ballots, but only 1000 signatures of voters, as reported here. At least try to hide your tracks better!
  • Raffi Hovhannisian claims attacks on individuals known to support him
  • In Artashat, seal on envelope tampered, while mixed up and unevenly folded ballots found inside, mostly being Raffi’s an example of destruction or invalidation of ballots.
  • Suspicious group bribes voters checks lists at Shengavit’s polling stations and police remain indifferent
  • Preying on the votes of the handicapped elderly as seen here an example of “granny farming” or misuse of proxy votes
  • Blatant destruction of ballots is reported from Yerevan on https://www.facebook.com/Raffi4President
  • Blatant invalidation of ballots reported by CivilNet
  • Attacks on reporters seen

All in all, there have been 361 reports of fraud, with 27 known cases of voting lists presented to the people, 91 known cases of ballot buying and intimidation, 57 known cases of pre-vote preaching, 79 known cases of suspicious or fraudulent activity during the voting (including ballot stuffing, granny farming, misuse of proxy voting, etc), 43 known cases of falsification(including misrepresentation of votes, destruction or invalidation of ballots, ballot stuffing, voting for nonexistent or out-of-country persona, false ballots, etc.), 59 known cases of violent or threatening behaviour (including, threats to person, violent clashes, grabbing ballot boxes, presence of unauthorized or armed personnel, unlawful behaviour by police, etc.), as per the information gathered by the rather amazing #iditord.

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Now, this isn’t the only fun to be had at the moment. What’s an Armenian event without Azeri interference? Rather dull, apparently. Sometime around 5 am in the morning for me, an hour n half after I finally crashed, the hastag I was so ardently following on twitter was partly hijacked by… well would you look at that!… Azerbaijani activists! Our own dear Katy Pearce outlines the hijacking of #Armvote13 here. And here we were, concerned citizens and diaspora, keeping tabs on the elections and minding our own business.
Update: http://www.katypearce.net/cv/armvote13-hashtag-analysis-11pm-feb-18/

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10 thoughts on “The Predetermined Win, a Worthy Contender, and the Hashtag Hijacking”

  1. Tamar,

    Keep your eyes on Hovannisian. He is likely positioning himself to be the Levon Ter-Petrosyan of this election year, and if successful, the Mikhail Sahakashvili of Armenia. The ARF pulling out of the election is more meaningful now in retrospect: it set up ‘Western-style’ Hovannisian for a second attempt at a most ‘Western-style’ “Color Revolution” in order to distance Armenia from Russia, leaving it defenseless. Ushatir eghir.

    1. I’m watching closely for that very eventuality, yes. I don’t think Raffi will gain much out of this, but it’s a dangerous tightrope being walked, facing a double edged sword. no matter which way you look, you are facing a problem rather than a solution… Thank you for the insight Enger

  2. There should be a run-off between Sarkisian and Hovhanissian. It would be the right thing to do considering all of the violations. I won’t hold my breath.

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