[one_half_last]On 12 February, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Armenia conducted testing operations of new voter authentication device (VAD) with a view to preparing the organization of the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled on 2 April 2017. with support from UNDP Country Office, the EU Delegation to Armenia participated to the observation of voter authentication testings in the communities of Varadanshen and Semyonvoka.[/one_half_last]
The main purpose of these tests is to identify any potential technical issues and come up with solutions ahead of the finalization of the softwares and procedures.
How this voter identification equipment works is quite simple. The voter is requested to provide an identification document to the polling officer who will scan the document with the said equipment and check data displayed on the screen. The machine will inform whether the voter has come to cast ballot for the first time or whether the voter is correctly registered in the right area.
At the time of the testing phase, some shortfalls have been identified and will be carefully looked at.
Very important step in building confidence in electoral processes
The assets of the new authentication technology are multiple. First, improved voter identification through VAD will contribute prevent from multiple voting in polling stations and from elections irregularities. The major added value of electronic identification device lies its ability to increase trust and confidence in elections among citizens. UK Ambassador to Armenia Ms Judith Farnworth stated that this voter authentication technology is a “very important step in building confidence of voters in the electoral processes” and in building “confidence that the results will reflect the popular will”. There is indeed a widespread hope and expectation among CEC staff members and members of the government of Armenia that VAD will result in more transparent and credible electoral processes.
“The European Union is providing more than 7 million EUR to support the implementation of the new arrangements in Armenia” says Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Piotr Switalski. In January, Ambassador highlighted in a press conference the great cooperation of the EU and UNDP with regards to elections and welcomed the efforts of UNDP to make sure that “everything is in place for the election day”. The United States, Germany and United Kingdom are also providing financial support to the electoral assistance in Armenia.
These devices will be used for the first time in the country during the next parliamentary election scheduled on 2 April 2017.
Working hand in hand, the EU and UNDP are implementing a project “Support to the Electoral Process in Armenia (SEPA)”, and as always mainstream gender equality dimension across all its activities.
In addition, the JTF is currently finalizing a handbook for Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) on youth participation in elections, which outlines both the challenges and potential solutions for the young women as they enter political life in their communities. This free publication will soon be available for download on our website.