Observers from the Organization of American States experience issued a preliminary statement on the election that took place November 26, and is still unsettled. Even the brief English summary exudes alarm about a profoundly flawed process:
“The tight margin of the results, and the irregularities, errors and systemic problems which may have surrounded this election don’t allow the Mission to hold certainty about the results.”
The rest of the summary is rather diplomatic and therefore opaque, but still states “the Objective observed with concern the stage of processing of votes and dissemination of results”.
The actual report is quite more blunt, and worth citing at some length:
On election night citizens received very little official information from the TSE [Tribunal Supremo Electoral, the electoral vote counting organization] on the votes tallied until 1:30 a.m. on the morning of Monday, November 27… The Objective suggested to the TSE that it publish the effects thus considerably… [electoral officials] announced the votes received by each candidate with 57.18% of the votes counted. At that time with time, the Partido Nacional [National Party] candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández had 761,872 votes (40.21%) as the candidate for Alianza de Oposición Contra la Dictadura [Alliance in Opposition Aganist Dictatorship] had 855,847 votes (45.17%).
On Monday, November 27, the TSE started to receive the electoral cases coming from various parts of the united states … observers noted that there have been no pre-established protocols for the reception and unloading of elements….The observers also ascertained that the order in which the cases were processed and unloaded changed: first it had been to be able of arrival, then different undisclosed conditions were used….
The Objective filed a written request with the TSE for the inventory of cases processed in which the final voting record (acta de cierre) or other sensitive material was missing and for the report on moments scanned [in the administrative centre city], and also all of the images of the moments being scanned during reception of the cases in INFOP and the plan for unloading the trucks and delivering the cases. Unfortunately, the Mission hasn’t received that data from the Tribunal.
There’s a lot more. The report also noted vote-choosing witnessed in three departments (claims), political interference in the privacy of voting, confusion about the closing period for voting resulting in people waiting in line to vote when the polling place shut in 8% of the polling places.
The problems documented in the OAS report contributed to a predicament in which there is absolutely no rely upon the electoral agency, which includes about three weeks to announce a winner in a race with the official 55,000 vote difference that two of the three key parties in the election doubt reflects actual voting.
These doubts received some support from a statistical analysis by The Economist, that concluded the chances would be “close to zero” for an observed shift between early vote trends and the ones that followed more than a time of unexplained discontinuity in vote counting, unless there have been something systematic that changed in the votes being counted themselves.
President Juan Orlando Hernández actually claimed that the first voting was from cities (where opposition to his candidacy is good) and later on counted voting was rural. The Economist calculated percentage shifts in specific municipalities, the lowest level of localizable reporting in the Honduran election, and confirmed large shifts in voting occurred within some native jurisdictions- 3.8% of the vote typically was shed by the opposition party following the unexplained delay in vote counting.
The Economist considered whether there was variation within municipalities that would support something similar to Hernández’s explanation of the shifts in voting over time within individual municipalities. In addition to statistical assessments of different data, they asked me to check out the data; what I observed was sharpened swings in voting behavior in places that were rural and uniform in human population.
This brings us for this: a large number of Hondurans protesting the results of the election, although largely peaceful, found themselves confined by suspension of constitutional rights and a curfew. After in the beginning following orders to dislodge protesters, nationwide police returned with their barracks, saying they would not intervene in the political crisis any longer.
What led to this impasse?
In a very genuine way, this election is rooted in this year’s 2009 coup d’etat that removed President José Manuel Zelaya. In an election in 2009 2009 carried out beneath the regime installed during the coup, marked by violence, nation-vast curfews, and vote boycotts, the Partido Nacional won the presidency. In the next four years, the Partido Nacional handled the Congress as well. The head of Congress was Juan Orlando Hernández, who went on to perform as his party’s presidential candidate in 2013- another election where queries were raised by the voting procedure. Analyses confirmed suspicious voting favoring Hernández in drug-cartel handled areas.
After the election of 2013, an illegal scheme that siphoned funds off a social service agency was uncovered. A few of the funds went to support the election campaign of the president. As additionally details spilled out, preferred marches phoning for the president to resign received adherents. Included had been the leaders of the two opposition functions that had split 42% of the vote in 2013, a more substantial proportion then went to the Partido Nacional.
It was these two functions, LIBRE and the Anti-corruption Party, that launched the Alianza in Opposition to the Dictatorship that now is deadlocked with the Partido Nacional in the presidential race.
In a move unprecedented since Honduras adopted its contemporary constitution in the first 1980s, in this election the sitting president is a candidate for re-election. Resistance to presidential re-election was promoted in 2009 2009 as a pretext for the coup, misrepresenting a non-binding study asking citizens if indeed they wished to vote on the opportunity of a constitutional convention as a move toward re-election.
While still in congress, Hernández oversaw removing a group of Supreme Court justices and their replacement with others aligned with him. Once in business office, he viewed as proxies brought situations to the Supreme Court that resulted in putting away the constitutional ban on re-election, and then declared himself a candidate for president.
The OAS report notes that as the Supreme Court cleared the way for re-election, that didn’t create a legal framework for re-election:
The judgment passed down by the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court of Justice gave grow to an irregular situation in the legal system… a regulation regulating presidential re-election has not been passed either… Therefore, as things stand, the opportunity is being kept open of a President perpetuating himself in office, indefinitely.
And as it happens that the rhetoric of 2009 shaped Honduran popular view. Reelection is unpopular. Thus added to having won the presidency in 2013 with simply 37% of the vote, Hernández faced an election in which nearly two-thirds of the united states did not view his quest for reelection as legitimate.
In this environment, increasing his vote over 2013 might have seemed unlikely. But that is what the TSE says happened. Unfortunately, its behavior in the 2013 election led public self-confidence in the TSE to decline to 42%.
Subsequently, there is widespread skepticism about its procedures and pronouncements. Little or nothing in the OAS article will strengthen public belief in the organization. While the OAS statement makes several good recommendations for the next election, Honduras faces the challenge of resolving the existing election, in which more persons voted against the incumbent president than voted for him. Because Honduras doesn’t need a bulk to gain, the TSE could declare a victory, following its assertion that Hernández includes a 55,000 vote business lead.
What’s questionable is how governable the united states would be.