Los Angeles Armenians Take Part in Elections

GLENDALE–Armenian citizens residing in the greater Los Angeles area turned out in large numbers to take part in the Armenian presidential elections Monday.

Polling stations were set up and administered by the Armenian Consulate’s office in Los Angels–while staff was recruited from among numerous volunteers. Voters cast their ballots at the Consul General’s office in Beverly Hills and at the Armenian Society of Los Angeles’ center in Glendale.

While polls opened at 8 a.m. with the first wave of voters at both locations–the ASLA center in Glendale–according to officials–saw many more voters than the Beverly Hills cite. The entrance to the Glendale polling station was at all times crowded by a line of more than 100 participants.

Election monitor Austin McCormick of the International Fund for Elections Systems said the local polls were conducted in a "very organized and business-like manner."

He added that the policies and procedures of the stations were in accordance to international norms and standards. McCormick said he had had no contact with his counterparts in Armenia.

Election participants ranged in age from 18 to 80 at ASLA center–and most regarded their involvement in the electoral process as an important step in the democratic process.

Samson Khodagholian–64–of Glendale said he hoped with these elections the gap between the Diaspora and the homeland would be bridged. He asserted that he had faith in his candidate Robert Kocharian–because "he’s young and energetic; he was prevented by [Levon] Ter-Petrosyan to reach his potential–but as president he can actively work for change."

Nazelli Keurejyan–a 20-year-old student felt that the participation of the youth in the electoral process is of the essence–because "we are the future and the improvement of our homeland lies in our hands."

Armenia’s Consul in Los Angeles–Edward Taranian said he was not surprised by the large turn out of voters–because he was certain that Armenia’s–although away from their homeland–were still extremely concerned with the state of affairs in Armenia. At the same time–said Taranian–the participation of the youth is a sign that "the torch has been passed down to the new generation. There is a lot of talk that our youth are on the verge of total assimilation–but this shows that our young people have heard the messages of their parents and their ancestors–and they are taking responsibility for the homeland."

McCormick added that he was impressed with the turn out at the polls–calling the Armenia’s "a solid and very cohesive community–very much interested in their homeland."

Eva Zoharabyan–an election volunteer added that she was extremely pleased to see Armenia’s of the Diaspora taking part in the future of Armenia–even though they thousands of miles away.

Polls remained open until 10 p.m. Monday.

At press time some 403 voters had cast ballots at the Glendale station.

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