The work in electoral commissions is a public service paid by the state. Moreover, a member of an electoral commission is independent and does not act in the interests of any party, and even has no right to engage in propaganda. However, even without having the right to appoint a member of the electoral commission, the Rule of Law party has appointed members of the territorial electoral commission and demanded that the latter either “bring votes” for the party or resign.
The case in question
Lusine Janoyan, a member of the Rule of Law Party, has turned to the “Union of Informed Citizens”, claiming that she and her mother, Elisa Janoyan, were appointed members of the precinct electoral commissions 9/22 and 9/27 respectively by the Rule of Law Party. However, Liana Manukyan (known to the public by her epic speech on the Liberty Square), who ranks 8th in the Yerevan City Council’s proportional list, has called them and demanded to either “bring 10 votes” for the 55,000 AMD salary of the precinct electoral commission member or self-withdraw so that those who “bring votes” can get that money. The Janoyans refused, submitted their withdrawal applications, and, as they say, even left the party.
The Rule of Law Party does not have a parliamentary faction, which means it cannot appoint a commission member. But it did not take much effort to reveal that the Janoyans were nominated by the 9th Territorial Electoral Commission based on the suggestion of the commission member Armen Grigoryan. And since the Janoyans insist that their appointment was directed from the Rule of Law Party office, one can conclude that the actions of that member of the Territorial Electoral Commission are also coordinated by the Rule of Law Party (which is illegal, to say the least).
It’s hard to say how many appointments of about 950 citizens by the Territorial Electoral Commissions in Yerevan were coordinated by the Rule of Law Party or other parties. But it cannot be denied that such an issue exists.
Moreover, it is a very serious issue when the candidate puts pressure on members of the electoral commissions and demands to do actions that are illegal.
Background and the global issue
As we know, 8 out of 10 members of precinct electoral commissions are appointed by the parliamentary parties, and two by the territorial commissions. The Central Electoral Commission is elected by the National Assembly and the members of the Territorial Electoral Commission are elected by the CEC.
Prior to 2012, territorial and central commissions were also formed on a party-based principle. However, after the amendments, only the Heritage Party lost its members. As a result of an oral agreement, the Republican Party of Armenia, Prosperous Armenia Party, ARF Dashnaktsutyun and Rule of Law have maintained their members in the territorial and central commissions, many of which still work there (even after the reorganization of the commissions).
The de-facto party members working at the territorial commissions used to appoint members of their parties as members of precinct electoral commissions, at least before the revolution. That mechanism has often accounted for the appearance of Rule of Law party members in precinct electoral commissions though that party is not represented in parliament after the 2017 elections.
In fact, this time we are dealing with such a mechanism. Lusine and Eliza Janoyans were nominated by Armen Grigoryan, a member of the 9th territorial electoral commission, who apparently received the relevant instructions from the Rule of Law Party.
P.S. After the mediation of Union of Informed Citizens NGO and later the Chairman of Central Electoral Commission, the Territorial Electoral Commission appointed the Janoyans in their Precinct Electoral Commissions again.