Notes From Hairenik
I just came back home from a day roaming between polling stations throughout Yerevan for the National Assembly (Parliament) elections. To be more specific, I visited three stations on Hanrabedutian Street alone nearby where I live in the Center, two in Erebuni, two in Noragavit, one in Nork-Marash, two in Arabkir, and two in Davitashen. Many of the voting districts were paired up in the same location, so I didn’t have to go far to visit a different station in a particular location. All the polling stations I visited were located in schools. There were anywhere between 1400 and 1900 registered voters in the locations I went to, and a list of all voters was placed somewhere in the school lobby usually on the walls to ensure that people can read them easily, with the exception of the Noragavit polling station, where the list was posted on the school lobby window, but to enter the lobby you had to climb about 12 stairs and thus trying to read the list from the sidewalk was impossible—people were climbing along a narrow ledge just below the windows to read whether their name was listed.

For the most part I did not notice anything unusual at any of the places that I visited. Citizens getting out the vote were courteous to one another and to the election officials, being sure to follow the voting rules. At all stations clearly visible posters were affixed to walls demonstrating the steps needed to be taken to place a vote. There was one incident in Noragavit whereby a photojournalist’s credentials were refused by local election officials and he was temporarily unable to work until a phone call to the Central Election Commission main office was made to straighten the situation out. And people waiting to register themselves and receive ballots were also generally disorderly there, sometimes shouting, with no obvious voters’ line. In each of the stations two ballot boxes were in plain view side by side. Each voter who registered his or her passport number with the election officials was given two ballots—one for the majoritarian list and the other for the proportional candidates. The voters then had to insert the ballots in their respective envelopes, then they carried them to the ballot boxes, where they were stamped by an official and inserted into the respective container.

There are some reports of alleged funny business as well as fights breaking out at polling stations. But nothing can be proved as of yet, with the exception of the situation I personally witnessed in Noragavit, which incidentally is located in the Shengavit district of Yerevan near the end bordering the Ararat region.

All in all it was a very exciting day. And I finally had a chance to meet fellow Armenian-American (now an Armenian citizen) and former foreign minister, Raffi Hovanissian, whose political party, Heritage, is on the proportional system ballot. Unless I am mistaken, if a party is able to gain at least 5 percent of the total proportional list votes, that party will win seats in parliament. I happened to be at the Nork-Marash polling station where he showed up to cast his ballot, and I also heard him address journalists who were there for the occasion. So we will see what happens later on—as of this writing there is still a half-hour left to go before polling stations close at 8:00 pm. I will post more elections information in the near future.