Friday, December 6, 2013

Voto Social and Transparency

The independent digital initiative that was formed to publically recount the published Actas from the website of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) of Honduras, Voto Social, has sent out an email to participants in the distributed project of verifying the data on the Actas they grabbed (15,637 Actas, just under 97% of the total). Their website currently says 83.03% of those Actas have been verified by three people.

In their email, the founders of this independent project summarize what they have achieved in the review of the presidential vote count. I copy below the precise language from their email about what they have and have not succeeded in doing.

On the success side: they have demonstrated that the scanned Actas "presented results different from the official ones". As they note, the totals on their website keep the positions of the candidates the same.

They go on to explicitly note that
the possibility that the Actas might be false continues to be open. Up to now, 10 false Actas have been reported (they were test Actas that in some way were in the system) and were corrected by the TSE, for transparency, we are keeping a copy of both versions of the images of the Actas.

The demonstration of flaws in the vote counting process by this project, and by the take-overs of the TSE software by Anonymous of Honduras, should concern everyone watching this race. It isn't enough to say "the outcome wouldn't have changed". The organizers of Voto Social don't feel that is the point of their project: they emphasize the desire on the part of the Honduran community for "transparency".

Honduran voters had a right to expect their votes to be counted accurately. The TSE clearly has failed that test. There are still questions about Actas that were not published on the TSE website; the TSE never acknowledged it was correcting its count; it has simply asserted that it was correct. That is the opposite of transparency.

What Voto Social cannot do, that would make a difference for the goal of transparency, is to examine the concerns raised about the Actas not accurately reflecting the votes cast and the intentions of voters who showed up at individual polling places. The most serious concerns expressed there have been, and continue to be, about the effect of buying of credential from smaller parties by Partido Nacional representatives, giving them more places at the local voting tables where the ballots were actually counted.

It bears repeating, because it is something that the international community seems not to really be acknowledging: the TSE count of Actas can be reviewed, independently checked, even recounted, without ever resolving whether, as ballots came out of boxes and were grouped on tables surrounded by disproportionate numbers of advocates for one party, the true distribution of votes was represented.

How many voting places saw incidents like the one reported by LIBRE representatives at the Minerva School in El Paraíso, in the Department of Copan? How much did incidents like these, unwitnessed by international observers, affect the numbers reported on the Actas-- whether those were entered accurately or inaccurately?
They tried to intimidate me at gunpoint to sign the tally sheets and ballots before leaving the table, which I did not agree to, and finally they forced me to give them my electoral worker credential and national identity card. We managed to leave the community. In the door of the school there were people asking voters whom they planned to vote for, and if it was not for the National Party candidate they simply were not allowed to enter.

As long as the parties run the local vote counts, transparency will remain elusive in Honduran elections. It is clear that the international community will endorse the election of the candidate of the Partido Nacional: what is unclear is whether it will exercise any pressure to push Honduras to move further away from the electoral system that leaves the people of the country without trust in elections.

¿Qué hemos logrado?

Hemos logrado comprobar que el resultado de las actas escaneadas en el SIEDE presentan resultados diferentes a los oficiales pero las posiciones de los candidatos permanece igual.
Sabemos que no es lo que muchos esperaban pero por transparencia y objetividad esos son los resultados que hemos obtenido....
¿Qué NO hemos logrado? 

Sabemos que sigue abierta la posibilidad de que las actas sean FALSAS. Hasta ahora se han reportado 10 actas falsas (eran actas de prueba que de alguna manera estaban en el sistema) y que ya fueron corregidas por el TSE, nosotros por transparencia guardamos copia de ambas versiones de las imágenes de las actas. 

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