Chaos in El Salvador: the preliminary scrutiny is declared failed and the ballot boxes will be opened to count “vote by vote”

Chaos in El Salvador: the preliminary scrutiny is declared failed and the ballot boxes will be opened to count “vote by vote”

Last Sunday, presidential and legislative elections were held in El Salvador, but the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has declared the preliminary scrutiny as failed.

This has generated a situation of chaos in the country, and it has been announced that the ballot boxes will be opened to carry out a detailed “vote by vote” count.

Announcement by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal

The presiding magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Dora Esmeralda Martínez de Barahona, has informed that the preliminary scrutiny of the elections has been declared failed.

Despite candidate Nayib Bukele self-proclaimed winner with more than 85% of the votes and a majority in the Legislative Assembly, the result has not yet been made official due to the fact that only 70.25% of the processed tally sheets could be counted. Therefore, 2,547 of the 8,562 ballot boxes used in the presidential elections will be opened to count “vote by vote”.

Controversy and claims from opposition parties

Although several world leaders have congratulated Bukele on his victory, the lack of officialization by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has generated controversy.

Opposition parties have claimed failures in the electoral results transmission system, which has led the Tribunal to decide to open all the ballot boxes of the legislative elections and the remaining 30% of the ballot boxes of the presidential elections. In total, 11,109 ballot boxes will be opened for an exhaustive count.

Beginning of the final count and discarding of manual tally sheets

On Tuesday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will start the definitive scrutiny, beginning with the acceptance of the 6,015 tally sheets of the presidential election that could be digitalized and transmitted.

However, the manual tally sheets that were ordered to the Voting Boards due to inconveniences in the transmission of preliminary results and lack of security paper will be discarded. The President of the Tribunal has explained that some inconveniences hindered the transmission of results as planned.

Process of vote counting and opening of electoral packages

In the case of the presidential election, the electoral packages of the 2,547 Polling Stations that failed to transmit results will be opened. This process will be carried out in front of the Attorney General’s Office, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, political parties, the Electoral Surveillance Board and international observers.

On the other hand, in the election of the 60 deputies of the Legislative Assembly, 100% of the electoral packages will be opened due to the complexity of the scrutiny of whole votes, fractioned votes and preference marks by candidacy.

Anomalies and allegations of electoral fraud

During the elections, anomalies were reported in the process. There were cases of duplicate results of ballots entered into the system, which generated doubts about the programming of the table counting software.

Citizens who were part of the Voting Boards also denounced the failure of the transmission system, slow internet connection, lack of paper to print the minutes and errors in the system which duplicated and tripled the votes for the ruling party, Nuevas Ideas.

Reactions and rejection by the opposition

The Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block, integrated by leftist social and popular organizations, has described the presidential and legislative elections as an “electoral fraud”.

They have rejected Bukele’s self-proclamation as the winner and have denounced illegal modifications in the electoral system and violations to legal provisions during the electoral campaign. Therefore, they do not recognize the electoral results or the regime that will emerge from the elections.

Conclusions and expectations

Chaos generated by the failed preliminary scrutiny in El Salvador has generated uncertainty and tensions in the country. The opening of the ballot boxes for a detailed “vote by vote” count seeks to guarantee the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral results.

It will be essential for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to carry out a rigorous and objective definitive scrutiny in order to provide certainty to the population and avoid social conflicts. Only time will tell what will be the outcome of this situation and how the political conflict in El Salvador will be resolved.