Yes, but No: How the Rights of 677 Citizens Were Trampled

By Ivan Ardhaldjian

Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced yesterday that 825,622 citizens, around 63.4 percent of eligible voters, voted in favor of constitutional amendments. Following the referendum, reports of irregularities and violations of the voting process at some of the polling stations emerged. Below, we publish the testimony of Ivan Ardhaldjian, who acted as a proxy on behalf of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) at polling station 4/32.


A child helps his father cast his ballot in Sunday's referendum (Photo: ArmenPress)
A child helps his father cast his ballot in Sunday’s referendum. (Photo: ArmenPress)

At the 4/32 polling station, the local election commission and the proxies were not able to protect the rights of 677 citizens.

In the morning of Dec. 6, I voted “yes,” and proceeded to go to the 4/32 polling station as a proxy (“entrusted individual”) representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).

All day long, the elderly, the youth, families, professionals, and others walked into the polling station and voted. Throughout the day, I helped the elderly mount the stairs, I directed folks to the appropriate table according to their home addresses, and I often examined the conduct of members of the election committee.

I saw glimmers of hope in the eyes of a 90-year-old voter, and I felt the pride of young mothers and fathers who held their children against their chest or guided them by their hands and allowed them to throw the ballots in the box with the hope of a better, or the same, Constitution.

I was proud to be a part of all this.

At 8 p.m., the doors closed, the vote counting began, and the chairman of the election committee opened the ballot box that was filled with 677 votes.

One by one, the chairman opened the envelopes, and with the confirmation of the committee categorized the votes into piles of “yes,” “no,” or “invalid.” At the same time, a member of the committee, another proxy, and I counted and recorded the results. At the end, based on the 3 counts, and a margin of error of 3 votes, we registered 404 “no” votes, 229 “yes” votes, and 31 invalid ballots.

Yet, when the members of the committee began counting the votes, somehow the number of “no” votes went down to 117, the “yes” votes went up to 523, and the invalid ballots became 34.

Let me note a few odd occurrences:

1) At 7:30 p.m., four individuals presented themselves at the polling station as observers.

2) While the ballot envelopes were being opened, one of these new observers asked for a break. Suddenly, a fight broke out among these new observers—there was shoving and beating—that lasted approximately 3-4 minutes. Naturally, our attention was directed toward these four individuals.

3) All four of these individuals willingly left the station immediately following the incident.

4) Before the vote count began, the chairman of the election committee stepped outside to “start his car.”

I am certain that the ballots were switched in an illegal manner, and the constitutional rights of the 677 individuals who voted at the 4/23 polling station were abused.

Shame on all the members of the committee and the “entrusted individuals” (including myself) for failing to protect the 677 voices of our fellow citizens—regardless of what they voted for.

Shame on all those who participated in this fraud, or who witnessed but turned a blind eye to it.

Shame on the leadership that instructed the planning and execution of such organized fraud.

Shame on anyone who—upon learning that there would be violations—knowingly walked away and refused to protect the rights of citizens.

Thank you, 677 citizens, for believing in our democracy. You are my hope. I will continue to struggle on your behalf.


Ardhaldjian’s testimony was translated from the original Armenian into English by the Armenian Weekly.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. AW, thanks for printing this wonderful eyewitness account, but not just “Shame” on the guilty; we all demand and deserve to see them ALL prosecuted and thrown in jail! Massive election fraud is the single worst type of corruption that that can be forced upon the citizens of a struggling democracy. IT IS A DEMOCRACY KILLER. SHAME AND JAIL ON ALL LAWBREAKERS!

  2. This is one of the select few cases only that were reported. The actual magnitude was by far larger. The same tactic was used in other places, when other tactics failed they orchestrated a brawl of some kind to divert the attention and switch the ballots. The fraud was systematically organized and executed with a few exceptions where the observers or opposition members of the polling committees were able to put up a fight and prevent the fraud from happening. In many cases the opposition parties either didn’t have enough personnel to provide committee members and observers, or they were bribed or intimidated out of the ballot counting procedure.

  3. In my judgement the constitution voting should be repeated regardless ‘YES OR NO” Armenians worldwide apart those living in Armenia witnessed unfair froad was very transparent, in that sense we are not a democratic country, shame on us for not letting people express their own will.

  4. Mr. Ardhaldjian:

    Do have any photographic or video evidence to support your allegations?
    Is there anybody else besides yourself that can corroborate your allegations ?

    With 1,000s of observers and everybody walking around with recording devices (smartphones), can we see some videos or pics of these alleged mass fights or brawls supposedly orchestrated by the RPA ?

    Maybe the opposition started these brawls and switched the ballots, if it happened at all, to smear the RPA ?

    Why should we believe you ?
    Because you said you witnessed it ?
    Any hard evidence ?

  5. Democracy appeals to society’s lowest classes yearning for a voice; the nation’s religious and ethnic minorities and homosexuals yearning for acceptance; politically naive romantics; and the intellectually shallow. Democracy is like a highly addictive and a very dangerous game that everybody can play (and everybody is being encouraged to play) but also a game that no one can actually win at. You keep trying and trying, you tear yourself apart in the process, yet you just cant win. The game is simply unwinnable, but you keep trying because it’s being pushed by the game’s creators. You keep playing because it’s highly addictive and you keep playing because everyone’s doing it. The creators and thus pushers of this game are the ones that have rigged the game in their favor. They can afford to play it and even make it look as if they are winning at it… but for the rest of us its a nasty road to nowhere. Ivan is just another one of our deeply naive but well meaning Armenians from the Diaspora desperately trying to play a game that he and his people have absolutely no chances at winning. Armenians have always been Armenia’s biggest problem.

    • So what do you propose in place?

      “Democracy is like a highly addictive and a very dangerous game that everybody can play (and everybody is being encouraged to play) but also a game that no one can actually win at.”

      What does this really mean? Who is trying to win and what exactly are they trying to win?

      You don’t want to be able to vote and talk freely?

      The nation’s religious and ethnic minorities are the lowest classes? Does that include Armenians in the US?

  6. During the Bush vs Gore election, Republicans, with the illegal participation Republican majority SCOTUS, openly stole the POTUS election. There was no allegation, or suspicion of theft of the election: it was done in broad daylight. SCOTUS has and had no legal right to get involved in the elections of the Sovereign State of Florida. But it did. They twisted the law to suite the occasion. And under the color of Law, stole the office of POTUS for their boy Gee Dubya.

    Here is American style “democracy” at work for you:
    Popular vote:
    Bush 50,456,002.
    Gore 50,999,897.
    Hail President Bush.
    (Yes, I know all about the Electoral College)

    Fast forward to 2015.
    This what we read:
    [US Embassy in Armenia: Allegations of electoral irregularities are of concern](17:16, 08.12.2015
    Did anyone lecture US about their shenanigans in stealing a Presidential elections ?
    Of course not: US has this thing called “Manifest Destiny”.
    US can do whatever it wants, break any International law, invade any country – but everyone else has to sit down, shut up, and endure the lectures about “rule of law”, “democracy”, “rights”,…..

    To his credit, when Gore’s supporters started demonstrating, he told them to go home. He told them there is only one POTUS in US, and that’s it.
    But in Armenia, egged on by foreign entities, foreign owned NGOs in RoA, and misguided if well meaning (West) Diaspora busybodies, the protests never stop. The same 50-100 people will be demonstrating every weekend, until the next election.
    Don’t they have anything else to do ?

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