Honduras’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) assured that it would reveal the official results of last November 24th elections three hours after closing the polling stations. The promise was sustained on the new electoral information transmission system, but reality was very different: after almost six hours, the authorities offered a first bulletin, which rather than dissipate doubts, turned on the alarms in light of its lack of neutrality and conclusiveness.
As expected, the announcement sparked fraud accusations and distrust in the tally and transmission of results. Even the two candidates with the highest number of votes until then proclaimed themselves winners. In spite of this, the country had to wait more than 24 hours for the TSE to assure that there was an irreversible trend—once again, with partial results, and it took many days to offer the results of the total scrutiny.
Even though Honduras intended to improve in this voting session, it did not do enough. Last year, during primary elections, trouble included the days-long delay to announce results and problems with the TSE portal, which led to discard the Preliminary Electoral Result System (TREP), which used to be used to do a fast count and transmit data via telephone. The alternative was to implement Integrated Scrutiny and Divulgation System (Siede), based on the scanning of voting minutes and the online transmission of said scans to the TSE’s data center.
Due to the complex panorama the country experienced, the president of the electoral entity, David Matamoros, hurriedly stated that “the elections were transparent and correct and the incidents that arose were very small compared to the great joy experienced by the Honduran people.” Besides the Organization of American States and the European Union—with prominent observation missions in the nation—brought forward their conclusions to dissipate doubts and assured that the results “were reliable.”
Although the statements sought to erase the shadow of doubt, trust from citizens and politicians does not stand electoral dilation, and the elections have already been subject to one legal challenge and one more could be underway.
Thus, the country is facing a decisive moment in which it should focus on guaranteeing that the decision to automate elections is fulfilled rather than trying escape routes to overcome an electoral system that has damaged the credibility of the authorities and undermined the citizens’ trust.