Publication | Report/Paper

Armenia: 1995 On-Site Technical Assistance

From May 26 to July 10, 1995 the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (lFES) sent a
team including IFES Consultant Linda Edgeworth, an election administration specialist, and IFES
Program Officer for Europe and Asia Scott Lansell to the Republic of Armenia. This on-site
assistance was supported by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAlD). The mission's
activities centered around the Armenian elections to the National Assembly and the simultaneous
Referendum on a new Constitution for the Republic.
The purpose of the mission was to: (1) Evaluate Armenia's administrative systems for the delivery
of electoral services such as constituency delimitation, voter identification and registration,
balloting and election administration, poll worker training, vote tabulation, voter education,
campaign practices, and media and civic participation, prior to upcoming parliamentary elections;
(2) Identify feasible areas for short-term technical assistance in preparation for the July, 1995
Parliamentary Elections and Referendum, and provide a framework for public- and private-funded
assistance projects; and (3) Recommend longer-term improvements to Armenia's election process
and forward concrete actions which should be taken by USAlD, and others in the donor
community, which would strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Armenia prior to the
scheduled June 1996 Presidential Elections.
The Armenian Parliamentary Elections and Constitutional Referendum of July 5, 1995 were the
country's first multi-party elections since independence in 1991. The on-going political and
economic crises that have enveloped the Republic of Armenia since independence added to the
complexity of improving the process of democratization. Conducting a referendum and/or
elections under such circumstances were undoubtedly an ambitious task. Problems cited by
international and domestic election observers included: media outlet suspensions; journalist
intimidations; voter registration inconsistencies; the banning of the National Union-Dashnaktsutyun
(Dashnaks); the lack of timely and fair judicial review; voting irregularities in
military units and hospitals; the Central Election Commission's interpretation(s) of the Election
Law and Law on Referendum; and on election day, an unusually high number of ballots disqualified
due to poor ballot design and voter and poll worker comprehension and education.
During the mission it became immediately apparent that the need for voter education was
paramount in a setting which had precluded meaningful debate on critical issues such as the
Constitutional Referendum and the platforms of competing political parties and candidates. There
was also a serious deficiency of fundamental information on election day procedures available to
the general public and poll worker in a "user friendly" format.
Prior to the July 5 elections, it became apparent that existing plans did not include preparation of
educational materials for observer delegations who were to participate in the elections. In addition,
IFES determined that a serious deficiencies existed which jeopardized an efficient and accountable
conduct of the election. The CEC did not conduct formalized training of poll workers, and did not prepare training materials despite the recommendation of IFES and others.
This report will provide a targeted overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the electoral
process and recommends specific areas of support where the services of IFES and international
donors proved crucial to election administration and observation both before and after the
Parliamentary Elections of Ju1y 5, 1995.