Nicaragua will elect their president of the republic, national, departmental and Central American representatives this Sunday by means of popular vote. The Electoral Supreme Court (CSE in Spanish) organizes the election, as usual, and the lack of an automated process (electoral register, voting and vote count) is one of the characteristics of constraint from a technical and even political standpoint.
Regarding this issue, the Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE in Spanish), a non government body with over a decade of experience on electoral observations, analyzed the preliminary electoral registries published in 528 voting stations, in 63 municipalities of the country and was able to prove that seven of every ten official documents of the CSE had names of deceased persons.
Also, by means of the results from Third Electoral Observation Report of the IPADE, released mid October, it was recorded that in over 70% of voting stations monitored, where preliminary registries were published last August 8th, names of deceased persons were also detected. As a result, the organization has addressed the need to perform an audit to the registry of voters in Nicaragua.
The lack of automated systems is replicated in voting, which is done manually. This starts in the vote collection committee, these bodies are in charge of counting votes, under the oversight of organization watchdogs with political purposes. This information is sent to the Department Electoral Councils, who must also solve challenges. Lastly, the CSE has to revise resolutions made by the Department Electoral Councils.
The entire scheme has been in sight from several studies, given that transparency mechanisms have been doubted about. The 3rd report from the Media Observatory of the Communications Research Center (Cinco), published on October the 5th of 2001 revealed “the lack of transparency in electoral management, on behalf of the CSE, has been the main concern of the media in the country in the period time between August and September of the present year”.
Likewise, research highlighted “the confusion between government-family-state”. By joining these four elements, according to Alfonso Malespín Jirón, member of the advisory council of the Observatory, “a process that has been brewing throughout these five years en the government´s communication strategy, which said that the final objective was none other than to destroy the institutionalism found in 2007. And progressively in this process of confusing family interests with those of the party, government and state have worked against democratic institutionalism of the country”. Therefore, the lack of automation, as well as the rules that generate transparency, can involve the electoral body in a political game, taking credibility away from elections to be carried out.