Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Running Elections in El Salvador

Especially given the fraud by the Electoral Tribunal in Honduras in November, Tim Muth's post on the TSE in El Salvador is thought provoking.

Perhaps the biggest challenge El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal ("TSE") has right now is to find the more than 94,000 citizens needed to run the vote reception tables across the country.    In previous elections, this was the responsibility of the political parties and the persons at the voting tables could be affiliated with the parties.   The parties recruited, trained and made sure that people showed up  Fairness was ensured by the fact that each of the parties was represented by one of the officials at the tables.   
However, since the last election the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the officials at the voting tables must be non-partisan and unaffiliated with the parties.  Now the TSE must enroll 94,000 nonpartisan officials and train them on a very complicated voting process.   The TSE has gone about this by directly recruiting persons to serve as officials, by using lists proposed by the political parties, and by a citizen draft.

This last part is staggering. The elections are in two months and they need to find 28,000 people, tell them they're working on the election, and fine them if they don't comply! What you'll likely end up with is a mess, with people who don't care and aren't committed to the endeavor. I am not an expert on poll workers, but in the U.S. generally the idea is that opposing parties get some representation. You need as much training and oversight as you can get. Hooking people off the street does not achieve that.


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