OSCE ODIHR publishes final report on Armenia’s parliamentary elections

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) final report on Armenia’s 2 April 2017 parliamentary elections noted that fundamental freedoms were generally respected and candidates were able to campaign without restrictions. Noting an overall lack of public trust in the electoral process, the report, published on 10 July 2017, recommends that authorities and political parties take measures to discourage vote-buying and any form of pressure on citizens to attend campaign events or vote in a particular way.

The report welcomes recent legal reforms and recommends that remaining gaps and ambiguities in the law be addressed, including with regards to campaigning, campaign finance regulations, and legal standing and deadlines for complaints and appeals. In order to ensure uniform implementation of the law, the report recommends that the Central Election Commission clarify legal provisions through binding decisions and provide additional guidance to lower-level commissions.

Noting that the elections were well administered, the report encourages intensified efforts to enhance access to voting procedures for people with physical disabilities and reduced mobility. The report also encourages more accessible and comprehensive voter education materials.

Praising the improved accuracy of voter lists, the report calls on the authorities to continue measures to reduce the number of voters without a complete address. The report positively noted the publication of scanned copies of signed voter lists from polling stations as an important deterrent of voter impersonation, but recommends that the authorities take measures to guarantee the protection of voter’s private data.

Noting shortcomings in the oversight of media during the campaign, the report recommends setting clear guidelines for media conduct, improving media monitoring methodologies, and extending the authority of the media regulatory body outside of the official campaign period. In addition, measures to ensure the full transparency of media ownership are proposed.

To enhance the transparency and effectiveness of campaign finance oversight, the report recommends that the Oversight and Audit Service should have adequate resources, technical expertise and independence.

The removal of burdensome procedures for observer groups to register are among the report’s other recommendations, so as to ensure the full transparency of the electoral process.

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