Honduras found out the final results of the November 18 primary elections just this week. Beyond the unspeakable delay in the announcement of who won the interns, the irregularities and inconsistencies noticed and decried in various parts of the country are real reasons for concern, facing the November 2013 general elections.
The questions that emerge in light of this panorama are: Is there an institutional will to improve the electoral system? Will the country be capable of applying a reform during this last year before the elections? Will the political actors take compromise in the effort of achieving a reliable system? Will the speakers do enough to guarantee the people’s intent?
The answers, for now, are mere speculation. However, if we make an inventory of what’s happened in the last few days, the truth is no other: it is imperative that Honduras makes its path towards an electoral transformation that shakes both the political class and the citizenry. It is a matter of advancing or losing.
Questioning stems from the very essence of the manual voting system used by Honduras. The country employs the Preliminary Electoral Result System (TREP) to carry out quick tallies that are done selectively and at the most convenient speed. The structure that depends directly from the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) was dubbed “the spawn of fraud” by all factions. The reasons include the fact that the results offered were obtained by phone calls and through reports from three companies, one of which belonged to Arturo Corrales, current Minister of Foreign Affairs. There was even an allegation that the computing system was being managed by personnel unknown to the political actors.
Inconsistencies shown by more than 10% of the records reflect either that the personnel in charge of carrying out the event was not trained to fulfill this task or that the weaknesses in the system allow for the alteration of the information that guarantees the reliability of the results.
Three of the country’s nine parties participated at the interns. All of them questioned the process, according to the overthrown former president Manuel Zelaya —who got to be nominated to the Parliament and whose wife will be a presidential candidate—. Zelaya demanded, just as many parties, intellectuals and electoral experts did, the elimination of the TREP, and he also made a call for the modernization of the system through the implementation of electronic voting.
Professor Jorge Roberto Madariaga considered that automation is “an unavoidable necessity” to eradicate corruption and electoral fraud, save on resources, make voting easier, and guarantee that suffrage remains secret and universal and that each vote will be respected.
What will the country and its authorities bet on? This yet remains to be seen, but the only option should be providing its citizens with clean and safe electoral processes. In order to achieve this, the world’s experience indicates that it is necessary to take advantage of electoral technology. The solution is right there for Honduras—hopefully it will not leave anything to chance.