Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
100.07% And Still Counting
The TSE has now counted 2,297,465 votes for president, for a 49.94% turnout. This is almost exactly the percentage vote projected on election day by NDI-Hagamos Democracia. So much for the exaggerated claims of 62% voting. And so much for CNN's December 5 proclamation that their analysis indicated a 56.6% turnout.
For the record, compare this with the 55% voter turnout for the 2005 presidential election of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales reported by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. (The same source reported a level of 46% participation in Honduran congressional elections in 2005.)
There are 700,000 more voters on the official voting rolls today than in 2005, but only 107,000 more total votes were cast than in 2005. A variety of analysts have noted that the voter rolls probably include some names that should be purged, and have also pointed to limited opportunities for Hondurans abroad to vote. But even these effects would not justify claiming that the 2009 vote was "massive", the term used by the de facto regime and echoed in pro-election statements by other governments.
Spoiled and blank ballots each individually beat out any of the third party candidates by significant amounts. In the TSE final count, Porfirio Lobo is credited with 57%, Elvin Santos with 38%, and no other named candidate received more than 2%.
Spoiled and blank ballots constituted 155,584 of the total number of ballots this year. Some proportion of these are self-evidently votes of protest against the regime. For example, in the La Tribuna article noting the null/spoiled ballots, you'll see a picture of a spoiled ballot. Written across it are the words "Golpistas hijos de puta", definitely a protest vote. Carlos Romero, director of elections for the TSE lamented the large number of spoiled ballots since the TSE had invested 50 million lempiras ($2.6 million) in training the electoral officials and public education specifically to reduce the number of spoiled ballots.
Taking the spoiled and null ballots into account, there were just over 2.1 million valid votes counted, about what Boz expected if the downward trend in voting participation continued as it had over the last 5 elections.
This is far fewer valid votes than the 2.4 million Boz proposed would be needed for the golpistas to declare the election a solid endorsement of the coup. At the same time, it is far more than the 1.5 million valid votes that Boz argued would indicate the call to boycott elections had a major effect. Instead, the valid vote count falls in the middle ground between 1.7 and 2.3 million valid votes where Boz suggested both sides could claim victory, as indeed they have.
But by claiming "massive" voter turnout, now falsified by the TSE's own vote count; by trying to redefine the proportional turnout by arbitrarily deducting some number of voters they decided should not be counted; and by working so furiously to misrepresent the levels of participation; the de facto regime has shown that it felt it needed something far more definite than it got out of this election.
We would suggest that the relevant measure of whether this election met the expectations of the coup regime is somewhat different. Less than 50% of those listed as eligible voted in this election. Of that number, almost 7% turned in ballots that were blank or deliberately spoiled, meaning that the final presidential selection fell to about 43% of the electorate. The trend of alienation from governance that already existed in Honduras intensified with an election that was in no way free and fair.
The big difference this time: hundreds of thousands of people now count themselves as part of a resistance movement that will influence elections in the future. And that includes some large proportion of those who did not vote, or submitted spoiled or blank ballots, as well as those who stayed at home on election day. Porfirio Lobo has no mandate from the people, to add to his lack of influence in his own party and in Honduras' national government.