Accompanying Salvadorans’ struggle for social justice since 1985

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Here is our partner Centre for Exchange and Solidarity's (CIS) initial observers report.  SalvAide's delegation was a part of the 9th CIS Observers Mission.  For the full final report in Spanish, please click here (PDF).


San Salvador, March 13th, 2012


Our ninth mission consisted of 100 observers coming from 12 countries: the USA, Canada, Norway, Venezuela, Germany, United Kingdom, Basque Country, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and El Salvador. We observed the elections in 16 municipalities in 5 departments of the country.

We would like to thank the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for facilitating information and our credentials as a mission. As well we would like to thank the political parties, the Electoral Monitoring Board, the Commission on Electoral and Constitutional Reforms of the Legislative Assembly, the Departmental Electoral Board, the Municipal Electoral Board, the National Registry of Persons, the Electoral Prosecutor, the Human Rights Ombudsmand, the National Civil Police, social organizations, Universidad Centro Americana, various embassies and other candidates who took the time to share their analysis and information explaining the context and the process of the elections.

Our primary objectives:

  • To carry out an objective observation of the electoral process in order to contribute to strengthening democracy in El Salvador through the realization of free, transparent, equal, and fair elections.
  • Create a secure  environment for the voters in order to stimulate democratic participation.
  • To point out the weaknesses, faults, inconsistencies or threats observed during the process in order to correct or prevent them in the future.
  • To contribute conclusions and recommendations of electoral reforms that could be implemented according to the experience of other democratic countries.

We observe the following steps of the process with special interest:

  • The opening and start of the voting process in the voting centers.
  • The installation of the voting tables and its members
  • The flow of the process of the identification of the voters, the handing out of ballots, the vote itself, the use of the voting booth, the placement of the ballot boxes and voting booths, inking the finger of the voters, etc.
  • Guaranties of the vote secrecy
  • Accessibility for handicapped voters
  • Possible acts of violence or intimidation like vote buying or vote inducement
  • The counting of the votes and filling out the vote count documents
  • The transmission of the results of the vote

As well we make observations of the manner in which the people will understand the voting process, the impact of the application of the residential vote in 9 departments of the country, the possibility of voting for individual candidates and the inclusion of independent candidates. Public security on the voting day will also receive our attention.

Our initial observations were the following:

  • Many voting tables opened late because of logistical problems: the members didn’t arrive on time, problems with Unique Identification Documents (DUI) or credentials, incomplete electoral packages, etc.
  • Once the tables were installed the process was very fluid
  • It is important to say that the voters were quite aware of how to vote and for that reason there were almost no null votes.
  • The participation was high in the voting centers with residential voting and it seemed like the system designed to verify the voting centre implemented by the TSE worked well.
  • The preferential vote is a positive thing that gives more power to the citizens to choose their candidates instead of leaving it up to the candidates.
  • The National Civilian Police played an important part in maintaining security and kept the process under control. But in some areas the Armed Forces had an intimidating and unnecessary presence near the voting centers.
  • The presence of the Electoral Attorney was important.
  • The counting was relatively quick. However many voting tables did not follow the procedures of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal during the counting of the preferential vote; they improvised methods for the count and some could lack trustworthiness.
  • The transmission of the results was a step forward in the use of technology.

Some negative points were:

  • Violence in Guacotecti towards mayoral candidates of the FMLN, ARENA and PES who received death threats before the elections.
  • Groups representing parties, or groups arriving with a candidate, campaigning, in some cases in doing it in an intimidating manner.
  • Some party monitors usurping the functions of the members of the voting tables
  • Some party monitors oriented the voters including marking the ballots for the voters.
  • The vote secrecy was not guaranteed: the voting booths were very close to the tables and were close to each other, party monitors looking over the shoulder of the voters. The logistics of the placement of the voting booths has to be improved.
  • The voting mark bled through to the other side of the ballot: or the ink of the marker or the quality of the paper or both was a problem.
  • Various persons tried to vote with photocopies of their DUIs and a lot of people arrived with laminated DUIs – some were allowed to vote and some not.

Our first recommendations include:

  • It is necessary to approve a law regulating the political parties that will also cover the electoral process of candidates within the parties, quotas for the participation of women and the financing of the parties.
  • To implement an electronic vote count in the of the preferential vote, or a an electronic vote.
  • Approve a reform making municipal councils have pluralist representation.
  • Implement residential voting in all of the country and continue to bring the ballot boxes closer to the people in all municipalities.
  • Strengthen the training of the members of the voting tables.
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