Saturday, June 10, 2017

RNP Budget May Disenfranchise Votes

The Hernandez administration cut the budget of the Registro Nacional de Personas (RNP) which issues official identity cards by $170 million lempiras this year.  As a direct result, up to 1,000,000 Honduran voters, who need the card for the next election, may not be able to vote.

The Executive branch in Honduras proposes a budget, and Congress approves it, making the changes it deems appropriate.  The RNP required, by its estimation, $370 million lempiras (aprox. $17.7 million) to cover its costs this, an election year.  This includes the funding for new identity cards for 1.5 million citizens, including the more than 330,000 teenagers who became eligible to vote this year.  However, it was assigned a budget $200 million lempiras ($9.5 million) by the Executive branch, augmented by $39 million lempiras ($1.9 million) of a budget that Congress allocated for it to dispense with the fees charged for citizens who ask for a new identity card.

That budget only allowed funding for 500,000 new identity cards, of which 330,000 will be new voters.  Yet the demand is for another 1,000,000 identity cards, which the RNP cannot make because it lacks the funds to make them.  In the first 4 months of the year, the RNP made and distributed 700,000 new identity cards.  Since then they've had to stop due to a lack of funding.

Nor have they kept quiet about the problem.  During the budgeting they listed 8 large projects that would make and distribute those identity cards to people without them having to come to a central place to collect them.  The Hernandez government did not request funding for any of them.  Hence the current problem.

So now, either 1,000,000 voters will be disenfranchised in November, or Congress will have to appropriate additional funds to the RNP, which may not have sufficient time to make and distribute that many identity cards.