The El Salvador Election News Feed

I’ll just be updating this throughout the date with news from various outlets. Despite my internal distractions, my head is in El Salvador. Thus, my mind will be returning frequently. Under the headline will be when I posted this item (EST). These updates are for my readers as much as they are for me, for future timelines and such.

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Polls are officially closed now at 7:00 (5:00 Salvadoran time).
Results will not begin to officially air until 9:30 (7:30 Salvadoran time).

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Funes wins the 2009 Election, see my continuation of the News Feed here with more up to the minute news and analysis.

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Great sites for up-to-date news:
CISPES 2009 Salvadoran Elections Blog
El Salvador Election Blog
Tim’s El Salvador Blog
Voice’s From El Salvador
Twitter
Elsalvador2009president’s Blog
Allí no más

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To tune into live broadcast from the eye of the storm. Live from San Salvador. News and analysis of today’s Presidential contest. Cut and paste this link into a Window Media Player or iTunes. Do not try to open it in a browser.

http://radio.indybay.org/elsalvador.m3u

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9:50 pm

The TSE, who is counting the ballots, has called for calm and is refraining from declaring winners. Both Funes and Avila are silent, as of now (although word is that Funes will hold a conference at 8 pm Salvadoran time [10 pm EST]). They will issue another report in 30 minutes.

9:46 pm

33.26% of the records are in. FMLN leads 51.28% to ARENA 48.72%. More to come.

Twitter is exploding with reports of fireworks going off in Santa Ana and San Salvador. Others are calling “fraud” already. We’ll have to wait and see.

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OAS recognizes El Salvador’s election orderly held
9:09 pm (Xinhua)

SAN SALVADOR, March 15 (Xinhua) — Observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) recognized on Sunday that the presidential elections in El Salvador were being held orderly.

The OAS endorsed the 461 voting centers in all the country, but it said that it has received some complaint that Honduran people voted in Torola, Morazan, east of El Salvador.

Chief of OAS observers delegations, Gustavo Fernandez said on Sunday that in average the 9,523 reception boards began working around 6:57 local time (1257 GMT) and 99 percent of them received on time the electoral materials.

Presidential elections in El Salvador were held with short difference between the candidate from the ruling Nationalist Republic Alliance party (ARENA) Rodrigo Avila and the left wing candidate from former guerilla Farabundo Marti Front of National Liberation (FMLN) Mauricio Funes.

Eight hours after the voting centers were opened, the OAS reported that some people still continued political propaganda, despite campaigns ended on Wednesday.

The voting centers closed at 17:00 local time (2300 GMT) and it is expected that president from the Electoral Supreme Tribunal, Walter Araujo, will give the first results of the elections at 19:30 local time (0130 GMT Monday).

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Not looking good for ARENA
9:03 (Tim’s El Salvador Blog)

6:45 pm Channel 21 Megavision has a preliminary count showing the FMLN winning 57% to 43%. TCS shows the FMLN with 53%. It’s not looking good for ARENA.

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9:00 pm (CISPES)

NOT OFFICIAL – PRELIMINARY RESULTS ACCORDING TO CHANNEL 21 IN EL SALVDOR

NO OFICIAL – RESULTADOS PRELIMINARES SEGUN CANAL 21 EN EL SALVADOR

Results from Channel 21 reporting FMLN count of what has come in so far…

Resultados de Canal 21, reportando el conteo del Frente para las urnas que ya tienen

FMLN leading in: / FMLN va arriba en:

64.3% Santa Ana

52.5% Cabanas

71.5% Cuscatlan

62.7% San Vicente

54.5% San Salvador

52% Morazan

Behind in: / FMLN va desventaja:
45% La Libertad

More preliminary results from channel 21:

NATIONAL COUNT
57.1 FMLN
42.9 ARENA

Santa Ana:
53.9 FMLN
46.1 ARENA

San Miguel
62.6 FMLN
37.4 ARENA

Usulatan
50.2 FMLN
49.8 ARENA

La Union
55.4 ARENA
44.6 FMLN

Cojutepeque
54.9 ARENA
45.1 FMLN

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Too Close to Call
7:26 pm (WSJ)

SAN SALVADOR — El Salvadorans went to the polls Sunday in massive numbers, concluding a tense campaign that may result in the country electing its first-ever left-wing government, and achieving what many here would consider El Salvador’s first peaceful regime change since the nation became independent 171 years ago.

After leading comfortably in pre-election polls, opposition candidate Mauricio Funes was locked in a dead heat against the ruling party’s candidate, Rodrigo Ávila. With no other parties fielding candidates in the race, this will be El Salvador’s first election in decades in which a run-off vote between the two leading candidates is impossible. That, and the bitter ideological rhetoric that has characterized the long campaign, have energized voters who likely will set a record for turnout.

Mr. Funes, 49 years old, is a popular television newsman and is the first candidate to run under the banner of a former guerrilla movement, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, who was not a guerilla combatant. Mr. Ávila, 44, is a former police director here. He served as a volunteer in a pro-government civilian defense unit during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war, which took place between 1980 and 1992 and took an estimated 100,000 lives.

By midafternoon Sunday, monitors were reporting close to 90% of registered voters had cast ballots at some voting locations. With more than four million eligible voters, one member of the country’s electoral tribunal predicted a final turnout of better than 70%. That’s a considerable increase from the elections in 2004, when the Arena party won its fourth-straight presidential campaign, solidifying the grip on power it has held since the final years of El Salvador’s civil war.

While the rhetoric of the campaign echoed the bitter Cold War struggle that took place here 20 years ago, the two candidates themselves signify generational change. Mr. Funes’s image, soaring on billboards across this teeming city, emphasizes his newness. “This time it’s different,” is one slogan. Another: “A safe change.”

Arena has countered with “Vote with wisdom,” and conducted a campaign that painted Mr. Funes’s FMLN supporters as fellow-travelers with Latin America’s most radical leftwing regimes, especially Venezuela. Government supporters also accused the FMLN of receiving campaign funds from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, a charge Mr. Funes denies.

The prospect of an FMLN victory is historic because it would be the first time a party not dominated by the country’s landed aristocracy took power in peacetime. The capital’s popular mayor José Napoleón Duarte lost a national election widely believed to have been marred by fraud in 1970, then was forced to flee the country. He returned to contest, and win, the presidency in 1984 — by which time the country was engulfed in war.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Saturday night, Mr. Funes insisted he would win by as much as 8% on Sunday, and predicted his margin of victory could exceed 250,000 votes.

“We have to mobilize our voters and defend our votes,” Mr. Funes said between sips of black coffee. “But we will win.”

Nonetheless he, like many of his party, complained of reports that Arena was busing in thousands of “hired” voters from neighboring Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to vote with fraudulent credentials, or else vote in the place of Salvadorans who have died, but whose names have not been purged from voting lists.

Election officials in the capital on Saturday said they had also heard reports of busloads of foreigners congregating in places around the country, presumably to vote illegally, but had not received concrete evidence that such a fraud was in the works.

Under election rules here, voters do not cast their ballots where they live, but rather must go to polling sites arranged alphabetically within their city’s limits. The country’s single biggest voting district is the capital, San Salvador, which has almost 300,000 voters, many of whom had to travel miles across the sprawling city to reach their designated spot.

The FMLN complains that such a system favors the rich whose private vehicles give them easier access to the polls. The counter-argument is that in a country where many people live in shanty settlements without fixed addresses, voting by name at a pre-determined site reduces the temptation to commit fraud.

On Sunday both parties mobilized hundreds of buses, taxis and private cars in an epic get-out-the-vote effort. Streets were jammed as buses crawled from polling spot to polling spot, discharging only a few voters at a time, depending on which letters were posted at each.

At the national basketball arena, a list of 16,000 names was divided among 40 separate ballot boxes, starting with a voter named “Lannuzelli” and ending with one named “Luna.” Poll workers were able to quickly check each voter’s voting card against a master registry with a photograph matching those on voting cards. There were few lines, and voting appeared to be moving smoothly.

There were almost no voters a few blocks away at the national soccer stadium, designated this year as the country’s sole voting “district” for Salvadoran emigrants returning from the U.S. For years parties in El Salvador have sought to craft legislation allowing over a million citizens living abroad to cast absentee ballots, so far without success.

This year, for the first time, expatriates were allowed to receive voting cards from consulates in the U.S., although when they returned home they would not be allowed to vote in their original towns and villages, except for those from the capital.

Nearly 40,000 Salvadoran immigrants received voting credentials over the last year and a half, a rate of about 2,000 a month. Yet three hours after polls opened on Sunday fewer than 500 had arrived to vote.

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Polls are Closed!
7:05 pm (Voices from El Salvador)

Observers throughout the country are reporting massive participation in the elections. By 4pm, with an hour until the polls close, a source in Soyapango stated that they had observed a participation of 60%.

Early exit polling has shown Funes up by a significant margin. However, these results are preliminary, and carry a large margin of error. A representative of FESPAD stated that by their estimates the winning candidate needs a margin of victory of at least 90,000 votes to be confident that the outcome was not influenced by fraud.

Irregularities

In addition to the power outage in Apopa for most of the day, electricity went out at 3 voting centers in Soyapango at 4pm. Because the results must be transmitted digitally, these outages have worrisome implications for the processing and announcement of the final results. Any delays to the announcement of victory will likely heighten tensions.

FESPAD (the Foundation for the Application of Law) stated that they are receiving a fewer total number of complaints of logistical problems with the electoral process than in January. However, a representative from FESPAD said that the complaints they are receiving are more serious than in January.

The majority of irregularities reported to FESPAD fall into three categories:

1) Influencing voters with t-shirts, inappropriate campaigning, food, or money

2) Obstruction of voting; for example, a business reportedly did not let its workers vote

3) Large concentrations of people (suspicious), ARENA is claiming that they are people working in ‘logistica’

Thankfully, there are very few reports of violence, and only 3-4 cases of people attempting vote twice.

Now that the polls are closed, all attention turns to counting the votes and reporting them to the TSE center. Voices staff will be at the TSE center for the rest of the evening, monitoring the process. We will continue to monitor the power outages and report any results as they come in.

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Latest E-mail update
6:55 pm (CISPES)

The polls opened to the public at 7AM this morning and since then citizens have been turning out to vote en masse. By 9AM, 750 of the 4,700 registered voters in Jutiapa, Cabañas, had already voted and many of the tables had lines of 50 people or more. Both presidential candidates, Mauricio Funes of the FMLN and Rodrigo Ávila of ARENA, voted at their respective centers this morning. Most of the voting tables in the country opened on time and, according to FMLN Magistrate on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal Eugenio Chicas, “I am observing that there’s a climate of peace and civic celebration that invites people to participate.”

International Observers have reported various irregularities throughout the morning. In the Estadio Flor Blanca Voting Center—where Salvadorans who received ID cards (DUIs) in the US are voting—the room storing extra ballots was found filled with water, in an apparent sabotage. The boxes of ballots were stacked on the floor and all got wet. Many denouncements of foreigners with DUIs have also been received. Throughout the department of San Salvador, as well as in the interior of the country, busses were observed transporting Nicaraguans and Hondurans to government buildings. Trucks of mattresses then arrived, presumably in order to house the foreigners in these buildings. In Tejutepeque, Cabañas, a bus arrived at the Voting Center and citizens reported that Nicaraguans with DUIs were on the bus and intending to vote. A group of observers responded and arrived at the bus to take photos and ask questions. At this point, the bus left and the supposed Nicaraguans did not vote.

Irregularities and Violence at Voting Sites Reported on TV
6:52 pm (CISPES)

* A Nicaraguan man was found in San Miguel having voted 3 times with a false DUI
* FMLN, presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes has denounced in 2 different interviews that the Yo No Entrego A El Salvador right wing activist are passing out pamphlets and other propaganda which is basically campaigning for ARENA and is illegal
* Apparently the police attacked FMLN militants in San Miguel, who were guarding Nicaraguan foreigners to not letting them vote. This are still waiting for confirmation on the written press about this incident, but the attack has been reported on the radios.

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Update
6:32 pm (Tim’s El Salvador Blog)

4:00 p.m. — With one hour left to vote, Channel 21 reports that turnout levels are approaching 70%.

LPG put on its website a photogallery of the election day activities of Mauricio Funes.

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As Election Day comes to an end, ARENA activists exhibit aggression
6:28 pm (CISPES)

With just over an hour left in Election Day, reports of ARENA activists exhibiting violence and aggression have increased. In a voting center in San Miguel, an international observer was hit by an ARENA supervisor. In Jutiapa, Cabañas, an argument errupted between ARENA and FMLN members at a Voting Table over the validity of a DUI. When international observers began taking photographs to document the argument, the ARENA members threatened to beat them up. In San Martín, ARENA members were passing out shirts and FMLN activists tried to stop them. An ARENA member showed that he was armed. FMLN members called international observers over who began photographing the incident and the ARENA members ran off.

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Found a great site with great pictures of voting in Santa Ana. I encourage people to check it out here: http://drakedalfa.blogspot.com/.

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No Power in Apopa
5:31 pm (Voice from El Salvador)

Voices has just learned that the city of Apopa has been without electricity all day. Because votes are tallied and submitted digitally, this could slow the process when the polls close.

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Continue to follow the election on Twitter…

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EU Election Observer Report
5:00 pm (Voice’s from El Salvador)

With only a few more hours until the polls close, Luis Barrionuevo, the head of the EU election observation delegation, stated that there have been fewer irregularities in today’s presidential elections than during the local and legislative elections held on January 18, 2009. The incidences, he states, have been few and isolated.

Despite the positive report, rumors of foreigners trying to vote persist, and police report that several Guatemalans and Nicaraguans have attempted to cast ballots today. Earlier, representatives from the Organization of American States confirmed that they have received complaints of foreigners trying to vote in the eastern region of El Salvador, including Torola in Morazan, and the communities of Cayetuno and Tepitan in San Vicente.

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Report from Human Rights Ombudsman
4:16 pm (CISPES)

Partial report from Channel 21 interview with Human Rights Ombudsman Oscar Luna (Procuraduria para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) regarding irregularities observed today. He said they have received reports of and are investigating businesses that are trying to influence their employees to vote for a particular political party. He said some employers were bringing employees into their offices during the week to vote on a ballot as a “simulation.” Also there have been reports that employers are telling employees that they must take a picture of their vote at the voting centers to show them on Monday that they voted for ARENA or they will lose their job. Oscar Luna assured voters that this is illegal and that they have the right to a secret vote. He also added that they have documented concentrations of “voters” in institutional buildings.

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Presidential Election Day 2009
4:05 pm (Tim’s El Salvador Blog)

A little late with this information…

2:15p.m. LPG reports that the police have detained 15 foreigners in San Salvador from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras who were traveling in a pickup with ARENA markings and who carried Salvadoran identity cards (DUIs).

2:00 p.m. La Prensa has reported that through the first 5 hours, 1.5 million Salvadorans had voted out of a registered total of approximately 4.2 million eligible. If this rate continues, this would suggest a turnout of approximately 70%, up from 54% in the January elections.

LPG has posted a gallery of photos from this morning as Salvadorans go to the polls. See the photo gallery here. EDH has a gallery of photos from the voting in San Miguel here.

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Voters turn out for El Salvador’s close, high-stakes election
4:01 (Los Angles Times)

REPORTING FROM SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR — Salvadorans voted in large numbers today in a tense election that will either retain the right-wing party that has ruled for two decades or put a leftist in the presidency for the first time in this nation’s history.

Seventeen years after peace accords ended El Salvador’s fratricidal civil war, former guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (or FMLN) were posing their most successful challenge yet to conservative rule. But the governing Arena party enjoys the backing of major media and big business, and in its closing days the race was too close to call.

Turnout was heavy early today. Walking, riding in dark-windowed SUVs or piled in the back of pickup trucks, Salvadorans were surging to polling stations. Buses festooned with the flags of one party or another clogged streets here in the capital in noisy but relatively calm voting.

Arena’s candidate, Rodrigo Avila, is a former police commander who warns that a leftist victory would align El Salvador perilously with Cuba and Venezuela.

The FMLN ticket is headed by Mauricio Funes, a onetime television reporter who has compared himself to Barack Obama as an agent of change. A political moderate, Funes has enabled the erstwhile guerrilla coalition to expand its support significantly beyond its traditional militant base.

Thousands of Salvadorans returned to their homeland from the United States to vote, including Tere Torres and her two adult sons from Los Angeles, who flew into town Saturday and were up at dawn to head to the fairgrounds to vote.

“It was worth making the trip so that we don’t forget why people like us left in the first place,” said William Torres, 24, who works in graphic design in Los Angeles. “The economic situation is really bad and people need to know they have opportunity based not just on privilege and what party you belong to.”

His mother, who left El Salvador while the war raged and who cleans houses in Culver City, said the election this year was too important to skip. “It could be that the change we wanted for so long is possible this time,” she said.

El Salvador remains a country divided by great social and economic inequity, with a vast poor underclass struggling to afford basic food and medicine.

But dramatic change is exactly what scares other voters.

“What do we need a revolution for?” asked Alex Aviles, 18, a first-time voter and law student, dressed in a red-white-and-blue Arena T-shirt. “People don’t have money because they don’t work.”

Maria del Rosario Martinez, who owns a small seafood business, said she feared an FMLN government would pattern itself after Venezuela under Hugo Chavez. She had come to vote accompanied by her daughter, son and 3-year-old grandson.

“I voted for Arena, obviously, because we want to keep living in liberty,” she said.

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Confirman denuncias de extranjeros queriendo votar
3:53 pm (CISPES)

International observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) confirmed that foreigners were trying to vote in this presidential election. In his first report concerning the opening of the polls this morning, Gustavo Fernández, Chief of Mission of the OAS observation team, stated that they have found facts confirming that various foreigners have been trying to vote in the eastern part of the country.

In the first hours of the morning, the group of OAS observers found these problems in the regions of Torola, in Morazán, as well as San Cayetano and Tepetitán, in San Vicente. OAS observers witnessed Hondurans with voter ID cards (DUIs) ready to cast their votes.

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Election Update, Midday
3:45 pm (Voice’s from El Salvador)

It’s noon on election day in El Salvador and so far reports from voters, election observers, major new stations, and major newspapers indicate that the presidential elections are largely unfolding smoothly, with some reports of irregularities.

Elections observers from the EU and OAS have applauded the improvement made by the TSE in the logistical organization of the today’s elections as compared to the elections in January. The Human Rights Ombudsman identified one of the most important improvements is the opening of voting centers on time; approximately 90% of voting centers opened at 7am this morning.

There have been a number of irregularities reported. These include

– ARENA supporters handing out t-shirts at a voting center

– FMLN and ARENA supporters waving banners outside a voting center, violating the 100m zone around voting centers where campaigning is prohibited

– One woman arrested on suspicion of being a citizen of Nicaragua

– Several instances of people being unable to vote due to irregularities on their DUIs, or their DUI photo not matching the photo on the electoral registry

– A few members of Voting Center Councils dismissed: one because of inebriation, others for having unverifiable identification documents

– There is an unconfirmed report that a FMLN representative on a Voting Center Council in Cojutepeque was arrested on charges of voting fraud, though it is unclear exactly what the circumstances are

Furthermore, at the voting center set up for Salvadorans living abroad, only 50 had voted by 10:30am. At least two were turned away because the addresses on their DUIs didn’t match their address in the electoral registry.

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First post — Noon El Salvador time
3:41 pm (Tim’s El Salvador Blog)

The polls have been open in El Salvador for five hours and there are five hours left to go. Reports in the press and elsewhere indicate that turnout is good, although it is still too early to know what the final level of turnout will be.

There are a variety of snafus and problems in the early going, but nothing unusual yet for a Salvadoran election. Thousands of blank ballots were destroyed by water flooding at the center where Salvadorans who live outside the country can come and cast their vote. The attorney general’s office did not have representatives at certain voting centers when they opened this morning. La Prensa Grafica reported that a woman in San Miguel with a Salvadoran identity card was detained after neighbors asserted that she was a Nicaraguan. At various locations there have been incidents of party propaganda too close to the voting centers.

There are a number of ways to follow the news of the elections today. Two Salvadoran TV stations stream live over the Internet — Channel 21 and Channel 33. The major newspapers are regularly posting updates — El Diario de Hoy and La Prensa Grafica. US based organizations which are observing the elections and blogging in real time in English are CISPES here and Voices on the Border here.

And of course, for the rest of the day, you can look for coverage here at Tim’s El Salvador Blog. I’ll be updating this post, with new information added at the top of the post. If you get your updates from the blog by email, you will not get new emails each time I update the post. You will need to go to the website luterano.blogspot.com to see the updated post.

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More photos from Flickr, courtesy of Jose Huizar

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Reporte de votación al mediodía.
3:40 pm (Hunnapuh)

This is my quick Spanish translation:

At noon, the process of voting for president takes place amid a tense calm. According to various sources, 40 percent among those on the voter rolls have already voted. If this trend is to continue, we will have a truly massive choice.

In Santa Ana, I reported that choice has been massive. There was less of an influx in Sonsonante in the mid-morning. In San Salvador, the vote was large. Arriving at polling centers by car is difficult, there are hundreds of vehicles in the vicinity of polling centers…

Isolated incidents have been reported in several districts but without major consequences…

As of 1 PM we will enter a lull in the voting hours, which will last until 3 PM. Activity should resume at heavy levels until 5PM. You can still use these lull hours to vote if you have not voted yet.

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PDDH Usulutan
2:00 pm (Voice’s from El Salvador)

Roberto Martinez, the human rights ombudsman of Usulutan, reports two incidents of irregularities. In a converstation with Voices, Martinez cited a case where a voting table lost a ballot and the resulting argument among table members dissolved into a fist-fight. FMLN representatives at another table complained of ARENA members voting without following the appropriate procedure.

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Old war foes face off in tense El Salvador election
1:44 (Reuters)

SAN SALVADOR, March 15 (Reuters) – Salvadorans voted on Sunday in an emotionally charged presidential election that pits a party founded by Marxist rebels against right-wing civil war foes who have ruled for two decades.

Tens of thousands of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States flew home to vote in a tight race that has reopened wounds from the 1980-92 Cold War-era conflict.

Cars full of voters clogged the capital early in the morning after polls opened. Supporters of both parties honked horns and waved flags under a light tropical rain.

Opinion polls gave a slight lead to leftist Mauricio Funes, a former TV journalist running for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, with ruling party conservative Rodrigo Avila just behind.

“It’s time for a change. We are tired of this government. It promises things but there are always more poor than rich,” said Reina Cano, 22, a lawyer. “Funes will be different. He’s always been straight and honest.”

Picking a candidate with no involvement in its guerrilla past has given the FMLN its best chance yet of ousting the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance, or ARENA.

Funes pledges to soothe the blow from the global economic crisis with center-left policies to help the poor, while seeking friendly ties with business leaders and with Washington, the FMLN’s old foe.

Many voters want to join a shift to the left in Latin America, but others are squeamish at the idea of handing power to a party schooled in Cuban-style socialism as an economic crisis bites.

“We are not going to deliver the country to communism, like in Venezuela and Nicaragua,” said a young woman decked out in ARENA’s red, white and blue colors at a polling station in the capital.

Armed clashes between left- and right-wing militants have wounded several people in the capital in the last few days after a campaign blighted by civil war-era barbs.

Many planned to stay indoors after voting in case a close result sparked protests. “The propaganda has been very ugly … Neither side is going to accept losing,” said Dora Acosta, 59.

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Sabotage of ballots at Estadio Flor Blanca Voting Center
1:41 pm (CISPES)

The room at Estadio Flor Blanca where the center’s extra ballots are being stored is full of water. The boxes of ballots are stacked on the ground and are all wet now. The police officer guarding this room claims to not know how this happened.

Estadio Flor Blanca is the Voting Center where Salvadorans who got their ID cards (DUIs) in the US are assigned to vote. The voting list for the center contains almost 50,000 names and their are 10 tables at the center. In order to avoid the tables having 5,000 ballots sitting at the table, the TSE decided tables would only have 500 ballots at a time and the rest would be stored in a guarded room and distributed as needed. As of now, only 90 people have shown up to vote in this center.

[And it begins...]

Massive vote, massive presence of police and armed forces, and political propaganda
1:28 pm (CISPES)

As the Election Day continues to develop, a massive turnout of voters is being observed. By 9 AM, 750 of the 4,700 registered voters had already voted in Jutiapa Cabañas and many tables had lines of up to 50 people. Both Presidential candidates (Mauricio Funes of the FMLN and Rodrigo Avila of ARENA) have already voted at their respective centers.

Reports are also being received that there is a huge presence of police and armed forces at voting centers, particularly in the departments of San Vicente and Chalatenango.

Observers and citizens are making denouncements that the ARENA party is passing out political propaganda including flyers, shirts, and stickers within 100 meters of the voting centers. This is illegal not only because it is within 100 meters of centers, but also because last Wednesday was the last day to distribute political propaganda.

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Foreign intervention in the Salvadorian election process on behalf of people linked to Venezuelan right-wing groups
1:25 pm (Elsalvador2009president’s Blog)

Venezuelans opposing President Hugo Chavez have been in the Salvadorian territory promoted by authorities of the Salvadorian Supreme Electoral Tribune (known by the acronym in Spanish TSE) and the ARENA party. These Venezuelans have been camouflaged as representatives of Salvadorian civic organizations and electoral technicians.

On Friday March 13 between 1pm and 5pm: A citizen of Venezuelan nationality, Gustavo Reyes Zumeta, was responsible for giving the explanation on the results broadcast process for the Presidential electoral process.

The Official program of the Salvadorian Supreme Electoral Tribune states the following:

Electoral technological presentation for chiefs of missions and official guests of the TSE by the company UNIVERSAL IDENTIFICATION SOLUTION on the broadcast of electoral results

There is no explanation of how and why the aforementioned company was selected to have this crucial role of broadcasting the electoral results for this Presidential Election. This situation alerts us on the potential of possible deficiencies of electoral results.

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Much has been written (see my previous posts below) on Guatemalans and Hondurans being bused into El Salvador to vote on out-dated voter rolls. Here are a few pictures I picked up on flickr by Sean Hawkey that show citizens stopping an ARENA vehicle that is accused of bringing outsiders into the country.

1:17 pm

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Election Update
1:00 am (Voice’s from El Salvador)

Almost 4 hours after the polls opened, voting in El Salvador’s presidential elections seems to be pretty smooth. Most of the polls opened on time, and people are voting in an orderly manner.

The most common issue being reported so far is the distribution of propaganda at the polls, which is a violation of the electoral code. The TSE officials and police have confronted ARENA supporters handing out t-shirts at the Feria Internacional polling center San Salvador, Pasaquina, La Union, Apaneca, and other locations.

In Soyapango, voting officials report that they have prevented a woman from voting twice, claiming that her name appears on the voter list twice. Two Salvadorans were denied ballots in San Isidrio because they are registered to vote in other municipalities.

Channel 12 in El Salvador is now reporting that there are no representatives from the Attorney General’s office in Soyapango or Cuscatlan. The AG representatives are supposed to be present at each polling station to take complaints and help monitor the voting process. The lack of AG representatives was one of the major issues identified by election observers during the January 18 local and legislative elections.

Turnout seems to be heavy across the country and most voting centers seem to be running well without incident.

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Polls Open to Rain
11:30 am (Voice’s from El Salvador)

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The first report we’re getting out of El Salvador this morning is that its raining! If you are at all familiar with weather patterns in El Salvador you know that we are in the middle of the DRY season, and not expecting rain for another two months or so.

Rain in March is rare but seems to be happening with greater frequency in recent years. Many Salvadorans believe that March rains are the result of global warming. Some who are more superstitious may be reading a little more into today’s rain and taking it as an ominous sign that their candidate and party are doomed at the polls. We’re not experts on global warming, nor are we superstitious, so we’ll not read to much into it.

The front page of the Newspapers today report that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE, the entity responsible for organizing and executing the elections) is ready. Election officials expect the highest voter turn out in the nation’s history. Experts expect an estimated 67-70% of the 4.3 million registered voters will to turnout to the polls and vote today. No one is expecting the rain to keep people at home.

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cispes3

Election Day Begins, notes on observed irregularities
11:06 am (CISPES)

Election Day has begun and our observatory is beginning to receive reports from International Observers. The primary things noted include:

ARENA JRV members (voting table workers) are extremely aggressive and have been telling observers they aren’t allowed to speak with anyone (despite the fact they are given the right to receive denouncements) and that they don’t have the right to take photographs (this is also permitted by electoral law).

The permanent ink used to mark people’s fingers after voting so they cannot vote a second time is not permanent and can be removed with a small amount of alcohol. For some people, the ink doesn’t even show up at all on their skin.

In Santa Ana, a JRV member (voting table worker) was accredited, voted, and then left and has not returned. Observers and other electoral workers are concerned that he is now going to also vote in his assigned Voting Center.

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~ by Daniel Schmidt on March 15, 2009.

One Response to “The El Salvador Election News Feed”

  1. Hi there, I’m a writer at Vanity Fair magazine in New York, doing a story on an indicted financial advisor named Ken Starr. Oddly, one of the investments he put his clients into was Universal Identification Solutions – the electronic voting machine company about which there are only the sketchiest details. Almost all we know is that one Gustavo Reyes Zumeta is involved. Do you know any more about him, or the company, than you’ve posted here? Cheers, Michael Shnayerson

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