ID Debate: Issue of voting by identification cards comes up ahead of Dec. 6 referendum

This week the debate in Parliament over making addenda in the Election Code and in the law on Identity Cards ahead of the December 6 constitutional referendum has given rise to new concerns among opposition parties that believe that identification cards are a loophole for multiple voting because it will not be possible to put stamps on ID cards like in passports which is done to prove that a person has already voted.

With the changes in the law proposed by the government people will be allowed to vote with identification cards. A total of 500,000 people in Armenia have ID cards, of whom 176 are without passports.

The National Assembly has already rejected the draft law of parliamentarian Tigran Urikhanyan, who offered not only to give those half a million people, who have ID cards, a chance to vote, but also through special devices to prevent possible multiple voting. The Republicans’ refusal is grounded by the fact that it would not be technically possible to purchase and install the appropriate equipment by the time the referendum is to be held.

Artsvik Minasyan, an MP from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation faction, said that once a provision, which allowed for voting with ID cards, was removed from the Electoral Code, just because there were no controlling mechanisms, whereas now they believe that only an identification card, without any additional thing, is sufficient to restore public confidence.

MPs from the Orinats Yerkir party believe that the voting with identification cards will put into question the results of the December 6 constitutional referendum. They suggest issuing paper-based passports to 176,000 people.

According to Heghine Bisharyan, head of the Orinats Yerkir parliamentary faction, the Republican Party of Armenia’s draft law already casts doubt on the whole electoral process.

“It means that addresses of passport holders must be checked, their passports must be stamped, whereas in case of ID card holders these conditions are not observed. This means that double standards are applied in making the decision. Do you want to announce in advance that the vote will be fraudulent?” asks Bisharyan.

According to Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan, voting with identification cards does not violate the right of a voter.

“We do not see a problem with double standards, but we see a problem, which refers to the additional safeguards against multiple voting. While conducting a research in terms of rights in the upcoming referendum, we will additionally study the question of what was the impact of this change on the issue of multiple voting,” said the ombudsman.

In MP Aram Manukyan’s opinion, the government presented a draft law on an expedited basis, whereas laws on voting must be adopted at least six months before polls.

“Voting with ID cards is people’s right. It allows for realizing everyone’s right to vote, but it would be contrary to the law, according to which, people’s participation in voting must be registered in their identification document,” said Manukyan.