In a discussion with RAJ at Honduras Culture and Politics, I think we have agreed that the results out of Cortes may not be anomalous. Nasralla reportedly did very well there, capturing 6/20 delegates according to La Prensa. The incomplete vote totals, while I haven’t verified them in detail, look at a glance to be consistent. His slate was doing very well, and the count was much more complete than the presidential. RAJ based her statement that the results were odd based on historical data and knowledge of the reason. But of course one can’t be omniscient, and the electorate was volatile, since the two-party monopoly has been broken.
Adrienne has given an interview in which she talks about the alleged vote discrepancies:
BP: So the results we got in were that there are two candidates who are claiming victory. We have Juan Orlando Hernandez who is the more conservative candidate, and leftist Xiomara Castro (wife of former President Manuel Zelaya ousted in 2009), who is also claiming victory. What is going on?
Adrienne: Well, obviously there’s a strong difference of interpretation of the votes, and it has to do with the difference in how those votes are being counted. There’s a transparency requirement of Honduran voting that at the polling places themselves, the public is allowed to be present, and therefore ensure that the counting is done in a fair and free manner by the polling workers at the tables. And those poll numbers are reported publically. And those poll numbers have been coming out right after the election closed last night, for several hours, just being read off one after the other on a couple radio stations and television stations. And almost all of them were overwhelmingly, not just a little bit, but overwhelmingly in favor of the candidate Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party. However, after that vote count gets done, then the new system in Honduras for these elections is that the results get entered into a scanner and get sent to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET). And then the SET compiles those results, and those are the statistics that it gives. The SET’s numbers are the numbers that the candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party is basing his claim for victory upon.
Those numbers tell a very different story from the numbers coming out from what they call the “boca de urna,” which is like the “mouth of the ballot box.” They say, in fact, that Juan Orlando Hernandez is winning by several points. And when the first numbers came out with about 20 percent of the vote reported claiming that Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the lead, people who supported Libre claimed that what they were doing was cherry picking, and picking only the areas that really supported the National Party. But when they have now, I think over 50% of the vote counted and he still has a significant lead. That contrasts completely with the numbers coming from the polls, as well as the exit polls, which give a broader idea of what the accurate numbers should look like. That’s the basis for the two different interpretations of the results. And then of course there’s also what we saw on the ground ….
We have yet to hear from the election observers, which is troubling. Their reports should settle whether there was monkey business at the polls. The TSE, i.e., the Electoral Court, hasn’t reported more votes in a long time. That is adding to suspicions.
Tracy Wilkinson of the LAT has the following cynical comment:
Several international election-monitoring organizations thought the vote count giving victory to Hernandez’s National Party was probably accurate. That’s in part because any fraud probably took place months ago, when Hernandez supporters could use the state machinery to offer jobs and discount cards in exchange for votes. Meanwhile, numerous irregularities and complaints of intimidation were reported on election day, Sunday.
But, as I mentioned to Brother John, vote buying doesn’t work unless there’s a way to verify that people have voted as they have agreed to vote. In Mexico, the PRI sent small children into the voting booths to monitor votes, so it was easy to demonstrate a connection between vote buying and results. But I have not heard reports of this in Honduras. According to RAJ, there are separate ballots for presidential candidates and diputados, which adds another layer of complexity. If you buy votes for a presidential candidate, and the presidential results don’t correspond to offices lower on the ballot, there’s a suggestion of some kind of fraud. A detailed analysis is needed and, alas, I am not going to do it. I hope someone will.