Election Day update: Alarming number of foreigners present in country on Election Day in El Salvador


(check out all the latest updates at http://cispes.org/09electionsblog/ )

FMLN and community leaders have expressed concern over analarming number of foreigners (particularly Nicaraguans andGuatemalans) present in the country on Election Day, presumably busedin by the right-wing to vote.  Their presence is troubling consideringprevious denouncements of foreigners on the voter registry andforeigners voting in past elections.

FMLN representatives reported that six buses of foreigners weredetained in the department of La Unión, another 3 buses of foreignersin the department of Usulután, and the National Civilian Police (PNC)reported another bus of Nicaraguans in the municipality of San Miguel. Last week, members of the FMLN, National Conciliation Party (PNC),Christian Democrat Party (PDC), and Democratic Change (CD) denouncedbefore the TSE that the incumbent ARENA mayoral candidate wasdistributing DUIs to Honduran citizens that were found on the voterregistry in San Isidro Cabañas.

The FMLN party is poised to make significant gains in both municipal governments and legislative representatives in todays elections.  For the first time ever, ARENA is expected to lose its spot as having the most seats in the Legislative Assembly.  Busing in of foreigners to vote, vote buying, employer threats, and various types of voter fraud have all been denounced in the past as methods used by the right-wing and ARENA to manipulate the Salvadoran electoral process.

CISPES activists participating as observers report numerous irregularities

Late Openings and Early Chaos

CISPES activists that are participating along with over 80 other international observers in the International Observation Mission (MOI) have already reported numerous irregularities at the polling places they are observing.  None of the Voting Centers being observed opened at 7 AM as required by law.  Many did not open until 8 AM or later.  The observers also report an alarming number of voting table staff that seem unclear on the procedure and their roles.  This resulted in many party-affiliated vigilantes taking on their work and distributing and preparing the electoral materials.  Multiple voting tables were also set up with their voting stations exposed to the table staff and public, denying citizens their legal right to vote in privacy.

Multiple DUIs

Observers at a Voting Center in the department of Chalatenango reported that before the Center opened, when table staff are allowed to vote, a woman was seen with two DUIs (Unique Identity Documents, photo ID required to vote).  Before voting, the DUIs of all table staff are collected and stored until the closing of the center to ensure they do not leave and vote somewhere else.  The woman working at the table chose to abstain from voting, but when asked for her DUI she removed two from her pocket and then quickly returned one of them.  Aside from the MOI observer and two European Union observerswho as observers cannot intervene in the processno one else seemed to notice the second DUI.  Another voter at this Center was also found to have two DUIs after attempting to vote at two voting tables and was arrested and removed from the center.

Foreign Voters

Observers in Chalatenango also received a report that four of the voting tables in the center had table staff that were Guatemalan citizens with fake DUIs.  A voter who was also a substitute to a member of the table staff was not allowed to vote after FMLN vigilantes identified him as a Honduran citizen with a fake DUI.

stay tuned for more updates and check out the latest info at: http://cispes.org/09electionsblog/

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