Watch for our report on Polling Day next! In the meantime, here is some basic information about elections in El Salvador this year.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BASICS
Presidential Elections are held every five years with one term limits. Citizens (at home and abroad) may vote in two rounds depending on the results of the first round on February 2, 2014. If one candidate fails to win with more than 50% of the votes, there will be a second round. The second round will be between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round. The second round will occur within 30 days of the first round. (via SHARE)
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) oversees the electoral process. They need only a simple majority of 3 of the 5 judges to make a decision.
MORE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Polls indicate that this could be a close race among Ceren (FMLN), Quijano (ARENA), and Saca (GANA/UNIDAD), therefore a second round of the election is possible.
Mauricio Funes, the current president, is the first FMLN nominee to win a presidential election. In prior elections since the Civil War ended in 1992, ARENA won 4 times by as much as 2/3 of the vote. Voter turnout dropped, perhaps due to the feeling their vote did not matter and difficulty getting to the voting centers. This year there are two changes: voting will occur in the municipalities where people live and there will be absentee ballots for those citizens living in other countries, such as the USA. Voting closer to home is expected to decrease fraud because officials from the municipalities are more likely to know the people voting.
There have been reforms under Funes. Some inequalities based on gender and poverty have been addressed, and there have been truces with the gangs. With over 1500 Voting Centers in a country with close to 7,000,000 million people and the size of Mass., it should be easier for people to vote, however, it is reported that not all have been able to register.
WHY IS ELECTION OBSERVATION IMPORTANT?
To increase the transparency of the electoral process and present evidence whether or not there is respect of the wishes of the people. Meta Peace Team (MPT) has joined the other 80 some SHARE delegates (ages 18 and over), both experienced observers and first timers, from various parts of the Americas.
Our day will start early when we leave for the Voting Centers very early in the morning at 4:30am (before darn). The polls are open from 7:00am to 5:00pm, with vote counting that may continue as late as 10:00pm. We are to observe: how the officials complete their tasks; how the voting centers function; how the political parties and others behave; and how the citizens behave.