By Ashod Mardigian, Ontario, 21 June 2021
What prompted the present missive is the header of Asbarez which stated that “only 49.4 percent” of eligible voters participated in the recent June 20th snap elections in RoA. Why was the word “only” inserted? Is this a prelude to de-legitimize the elections by unprofessionally treating numbers?
“The current population of Armenia is 2,968,609 as of Monday, June 21, 2021, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.” This number includes the below 18 years old individuals who are not eligible to vote. According to Statista 20.77% (616,580) of the population is under age 14. Obviously, these children and early teenagers are not eligible to vote. Due to lack of information about 14 to 18 years old cohort, their numbers are ignored in the following computations. Subtracting 616,580 from the total we get near actual figure of 2,352,029 eligible voters and not 2,595,334 as quoted in the media.
The Central Electoral Commission of RoA reported that there were in total 1,282,411 ballots cast. To calculate voter participation rate, the ratio of ballots to eligible voters is multiplied by 100. Thus, we derive 54.52% as the participation rate (1,282,411/2,352,029 x 100 = 54.52) which is higher than what was reported by 5.12 percentage points. If we were to subtract the number of people who either permanently or temporarily left the country, but their names continued to appear in the eligible voters’ lists, also the number of 14-18 years old group, then the real participation rate would increase by at least another notch.
An extensive study by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance showed that “almost half the countries in the world have voter turnouts of 60–79 per cent”. If we were to apply this finding to RoA then it would not be at par with most other countries. However, compared to countries that have gone through similar recent history such as Estonia (63.37%), Latvia (54.58%), Lithuania (47.80%), Slovenia (52.64%), then RoA would be comparable to them.
It is worth noting that 21,564 more voters participated this year compared to 2018. As democratic traditions take root and the concept of “citizen duty” gets appreciated, voter participation rate is anticipated to increase in future elections. The new administration which professes to uphold human rights and democracy is obligated to implement measures that empower the citizens and expand their involvement in public affairs. Simultaneously, like minded individuals and groups need to cooperate, hammer out their differences and coalesce to form viable political entities rather than have a multitude of small “parties” which serve only to fragment the political potential of the citizenry.
We look forward to the day that the people of RoA truly decide what sort of government they would like to have.
Addendum, 23 June 2021. The participation rate according to Wikipedia is revised to 49.26%; Civil Contract’s (Pashinyan) share of the votes is 53.96% resulting in 72 parliamentary seats out of 105.