Amid opposition allegations of serious fraud planned in Armenia’s upcoming constitutional referendum, the National Assembly passed in the final reading on Wednesday a bill that eases legal requirements for voter identification in polling stations. Voters in Armenia have until now had to show election officials their national passports before being able to cast ballots in elections and referendums. Under the controversial bill, those of them who do not have passports would be allowed to produce only plastic ID cards introduced in Armenia in recent years. According to government estimates, over 180,000 voting-age Armenians hold only this kind of IDs. Lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party (HHK), who have drafted the bill, say that they too should be able to vote.
Opposition leaders believe, however, that the real purpose of the measure is to facilitate multiple voting by government supporters in the December 6 referendum on President Serzh Sarkisian’s sweeping constitutional amendments. They say that Armenia’s inflated voter registers are a fertile ground for such fraud.
The HHK-controlled parliament dismissed these allegations when it pushed through the bill in the first reading after several days of heated debates late last month. It made only minor concessions to the opposition forces resisting the constitutional reform before finally approving the new voter requirements by 74 votes to 13, with 18 abstentions.
“A constitutional right of 183,000 citizens of the Republic of Armenia has been restored,” Gagik Melikian, a senior HHK deputy, declared after the voted.
Full Article: Parliament Adamant On ‘Vote Rigging’ Bill.