El Salvador held elections for Mayors, Deputies and representatives to the Central American Parliament on Marh 1st. I served on the observer mission with the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS). This is CIS’s 11th International observer mission in El Salvador and my 8th time serving as an observer. International observers are mandated by the Peace Accords. The two main political parties are, FMLN (former guerrillas) and ARENA (right wing party). There were several minor parties also participating some for the first time who received little support.
The process this time was greatly disrupted by a late decision of the Constitutional Court. Three months prior to the election the court ordered that cross over votes be allowed (ability to split a voters choice among more than one candidate in different parties). This change caused much confusion and complexity to counting the vote. The process went smoothly during the voting but when it came time to count the vote at each table it was much different. The first vote to be counted was the Central American Parliament. Most voting tables needed 5 or 6 hours to complete this count and two more ballots still needed to be counted. The complexity of county cross party votes and preferential votes within the party was more than labor intensive, it was painful to watch. After manning the tables all day (beginning at 5:00 AM) the same people had to continue with the count until the wee hours of the morning – 24 hours after beginning work.Read more