El Salvador votes for city councils and legislators in “transparent, accessible, and fair” elections

Press Release

El Salvador votes for city councils and legislators in “transparent, accessible, and fair” elections;

Preliminary results delayed by technical difficulties

Press Contact: Laura Embree-Lowry, CISPES Program Director (202) 521-2510 ext. 204

The president of the El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Julio Olivo, called on the nation’s political parties and voters to be “patient” in awaiting the results of municipal and legislative elections that were held on Sunday, March 1. As of noon on Monday, the TSE reported that it had received the recorded vote totals from 89.9% of the country’s nearly 1,600 community voting centers; however, a complex method of voting that was debuted this year means that official results may take up to two weeks. The system to generate preliminary results experienced technical difficulties on the night of the elections, but, according to Olivo, a new informatics company has already been hired to resolve the problems and provide preliminary results as soon as possible.

This was the first election in which Salvadorans could vote for candidates from multiple parties, requiring poll workers, who calculate results by hand on election night, to use a new system that required tabulating fractions of votes. Many voting tables were still finishing up the count at 6:00 AM; polls had closed at 5 pm. Jacob Blickenov, an international election observer with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), reported that only an estimated 8% of voters chose to vote for candidates across parties. “We saw a very minimal usage of the new ‘cross-voting’ method, which was ordered by a Supreme Court ruling just three months before the elections,” explained Blickenov.

Despite the delay in results, international observer missions, including from the United Nations and the Organization of American States, reported that Sunday’s elections were transparent and calm. According to Mattie Conway Carmona, an observer with the CISPES mission, “Our organization has observed every election in El Salvador since the 1992 Peace Accords, and we have noted excellent advances in transparency, accessibility, and fairness, especially in recent years.” Conway Carmona highlighted new regulations that have guaranteed LGBTI voters’ right to vote and the introduction of “residential voting,” which roughly tripled the number of community voting centers, cutting down on the long distances many voters used to have to travel to cast a ballot.

Observers also noted a high degree of transparency. “The Supreme Electoral Tribunal allows representatives of all of the political parties, international observer missions, and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office access to all stages of the electoral process,” said Conway Carmona. "This level of transparency really helps to guarantee fairness and accuracy." Roberto Valent, the resident coordinator of the United Nations System in El Salvador, told the press, “I think El Salvador is a leader in electoral management at the Latin American and Caribbean level.”


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International elections observers captured images of what appear to be new ballots being counted for the legislative elections (Photo: CIS)