Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad
11th International Election Observation Mission of the CIS
We congratulate the Salvadoran people for your overwhelming participation and your commitment to strengthening the democratic process in El Salvador. We congratulate the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal) for having successfully assumed many challenges and responsibilities in such a short period of time after their installation and with little time to implement the recent electoral reforms. We congratulate the JRVs for carrying out such a heavy but important workload. Their commitment and dedication facilitated the process and contributed to its transparency, something so fundamental in a democratic process.
Once again, the CIS observed the strengthening of the democratic process in El Salvador with the implementation of Pluralistic City Councils, the minimum 30% participation of female candidates and the direct vote for PARLACEN (Central American Parliament). These reforms are product of much debate sustained throughout various years. The process was calm and there was little violence and confrontation. The participation of representatives of the political parties gave confidence and guaranteed the transparency in each phase of the process.
Although the crossover vote was a reform was ordered by the decision of the Constitutional Court, and it opened more options for voters, it also generated confusion and uncertainty surrounding the voting process and also generated a slow and complex count and scrutiny process. The small amount of time to prepare and train the people involved in the process due to the obligation to implement said reforms with only three months to go also increased the uncertainty and confusion.
The TSE organized the complex process in a small amount of time, although there were things that could have been done better, for example, the lack of a trustworthy system for the transmission of results added to the uncertainty and they should take measures to improve this in the future.
-The campaigns were carried out calmly throughout the last days.
-Dirty campaigning was observed in social networks and pamphlets against Nayib Bukele and Guillermo Gallegos
-There was an ad on the television the day of the elections with ARENA colors inducing people to not vote for the FMLN
-The observers reported that the mayor of Cojutepeque was giving out free eye exams and glasses on Saturday February 28th, one day before the elections.
The voting process/The day of the election
- Delays in the delivery of the electoral packet and opening of the voting center. In Santa Tecla, they received the packets at 6:15a.m. and 6:30a.m. the day of the elections. These voting centers opened to the public in between 7:30 and 9:30a.m. but once opened, the voting process continued calmly and normally throughout the day.
- San Luis La Herradura – gang members intimidating the mayoral candidates of ARENA and the FMLN. There was concern in the voting centers of Centro Escolar Angel Scorsonelli and in Canton El Escobal due to these areas being controlled by gangs and due to their intimidation of voters. The voting centers did open normally, however the observers reported a presence of approximately 20 young men without credentials observing the process, which was intimidating for observers and residents. In the voting center El Centro Escolar San Antonio de los Blancos, there was also reported gang presence however representatives of the TSE confirmed they were dispersed by the national police.
- Sale of credentials for the political party CD and PDC to the PCN in San Luis La Herradura
- Little review of fingers to verify the marks from indelible ink.
- Lack of adequate illumination in the Voting Center 1a Calle Oriente in Cojutepeque, which forced workers to move tables, boxes and ballots underneath the two installed lightbulbs. The same happened in Centro Escolar Tomas Alva Edison and Centro Escolar Florencia Rivas in San Rafael Cedros
- Electoral campaigns inside the voting centers were observed by some candidates: Mayoral Candidate for ARENA in Cojutepeque, Mayoral Candidate for ARENA in Antiguo Cuscatlan, Legislative Assembly Candidate for FMLN in the Department of Cuscatlan, Legislative Assembly candidate for ARENA in Cabañas, Mayoral Candidate for ARENA in San Salvador in CIFCO pavilions 1 and 2.
- Usurpation of the roles of the people working at vote receiving boards by political party watchmen in various voting centers
- In various tables in San Isidro, Cabañas the president of the vote receiving boards passed identity documents to ARENA watchmen to review them, together with a small piece of paper. The watchman reviewed the ID card, saved the paper and returned the ID card to the table. In the same municipality, an ARENA watchman w as observed marking ballots for two people.
- We observed participation of the LGBTI community both in the tables as well as the observation and voting. We congratulate the current and previous TSE, social organizations and the PDDH (Human Rights Ombudsman) for their organization and resolutions to strengthen the respect of human rights, tolerance and inclusion.
- Logistics – the lack of adequate space in some of the voting centers, pooling located stand up voting booths and misuse of tabletop models in small spaces created confusion due to the closeness of the voter registries, vote receiving boards and voting booths. This bad location also put voter secrecy in danger (CIFCO Pavillion2; INFRAMEN; San Salvador; CE Marcelino Flamenco, Santa Tecla; San Luis La Herradura amongst others)
- Chemical copies of the acts did not work in some places and the voter receiving boards spent an hour and a half or up to two hours copying the acts 13 times. (San Salvador and Tonacatepeque).
- Lack of adequate ramps: Tonacatepeque, CE Nicolás Aguilar, a person with crutches and one with a wheelchair couldn’t vote. Although the voting centers were accessible, inside the voting center, some rooms with vote receiving boards were not accessible.
Count and Scrutiny, transmission of results
-There was lots of confusion
- The count for the PARLACEN members was suspended for about an hour in Distrito Italia, Tonacatepeque for confusion regarding how to count votes.
- In the Centro Escolar del Puerto El Triunfo, there was at least one table which did not count votes for each party if they hadn’t marked the flag. However, the results the put on the acts were not from the vote counter in this example, but from the political party watchmen – which leaves a margin of error.
- In San Isidro, Cabañas, in various tables, they did not count votes for parties if the voters hadn’t marked the flag or at least two faces of the same political party. They made mistakes in counting votes for political parties
- In the Rebollo Park in San Salvador, Residencial Libertad and Distrito Italia in Tonacatepeque, at 7:30a.m. Monday, they were still filling out acts.
- The electoral reforms or changes to the rules shouldn’t happen in the 6 months before the elections.
- If the count continues to be a complex system done by hand, two teams should be organized for each vote receiving board, one which works during the day of the voting process and the other which does the count and scrutiny.
- The TSE should adopt a trustworthy system for the transmission of results.
- Increase the TSE’s training resources.
- Enforce the law by not allowing induction inside or outside voting centers.
- Adopt a system of electoral districts to increase vote equality and allow citizens to know better their candidates – each district should be organized to have 3 seats to the Legislative Assembly. This same system guarantees plurality which is guaranteed by the constitution.
- Organize constituencies for PARLACEN, by population so that the population also chooses their representatives by department or electoral district and not for 20 members at one time.
San Salvador, March 3rd, 2015.