New Publications to Help Voters Make An Informed Choice On Election Day

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–A new information brochure for Armenian citizens–"The Voter and Voting Procedures," has been prepared by the Armenian office of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES/Armenia). This guide–written in plain language and based on the country’s electoral code and the decisions of the Central Election Commission–aims to aquatint Armenian voters with the basics of the country’s election system on the threshold of presidential elections on February 19–2003.

Prepared in a Q & A format–the guide contains useful information concerning voting rights and procedures–checking voters lists–composition and activities of electoral commissions–nomination and registration of candidates–pre-election campaigns–etc. It includes a calendar of key dates connected to presidential elections–as well as examples of ballots–the required mark to be made on the ballots (per a CEC decision in August 2002)–and the application that a voter needs to submit to update his/her information on voters lists.

"Every voter has a contribution to make in democratic elections. That is why people have to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and to be well-informed about the whole election process–from start to end. We try to provide them necessary information in an understandable format," emphasizes Alice Alaverdian–IFESArmenia Project Coordinator.

"The Voter and Voting Procedure" guide will be distributed free-of-charge in Yerevan and in regions during IFES-organized voter education activities.

Other publications undertaken by IFESArmenia are also free. IFES/Armenia has also produced for voters–copies of the Electoral Code of RA–a booklet on the office of the president–and posters and leaflets on how to check voter lists. These publications compliment IFES’ other election assistance activities including voter education workshops–initiatives to update voter lists–election observations–and collaboration with the Central Election Commission to distribute copies of the electoral code and CEC decisions–posters with examples of properly filled-in ballots and to produce a television public service announcement to inform voters how to properly mark their ballots. IFES’ support during the upcoming election season is within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding between the CEC and USAID and is financed by the US Agency for International Development.

To date–IFES/Armenia has produced 114,615 copies of twenty-two different publications–including various voter education materials–a 2001 Citizen’s Awareness and Participation in Armenia Survey–the Guide to the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia–the Guide to Everyday Laws–an introduction to the court system–the Local Self Governance Guide–and a Q&A guide on the police law. Through its network of instructors and these information products–IFES/Armenia engages residents at the local level and has developed an effective mechanism to channel public concerns into advocacy and civic activism.

"We shall Undoubtedly continue this work because we see that people need such literature very much"–stated Albert Decie–IFESArmenia Project Director. Respondents in IFES’ 2002 survey showed that they are less likely to obtain information about their rights and responsibilities–the roles of public institutions–and the country’s legislation from printed materials. In an effort to enhance the circulation of information IFES produces a number of public information products to raise the civic awareness of people.

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