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.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Don't Go Changing....
You will remember the night of the election there was confusion about the participation level of the populace of Honduras in voting. Saul Escobar, president of the TSE, came out and told us that 63 percent of the potential voters voted, whereas at the same press conference, they read the report of the independent NGO Hagamos Democracia, which found a participation level of 47 percent in its data. Where did that discrepancy come from? Many of us have been looking for the reason.
While previous press reports have described Hagamos Democracia as having a contract with the TSE, and described its methodology as being based on exit polling, neither turns out to be true.
According to Rolando Bú, coordinator of Hagamos Democracia, the only thing the TSE did was accredit them as election observers. They were not paid by the TSE to report; they are, in fact, and NGO, funded by various governments, including the United States.
Their methodology was to select a sample of 1173 mesas electorales from around the country based on criteria like their history of participation in previous elections and other criteria. In each of these mesas electorales, they established an observer who was present the whole time, from the time the polling place opened until it closed, and did not visit other mesas electorales as many election observers do. After the polling place closed, their election observer sent them the statistics from that mesa, including the tallied vote counts, and participation from the official "actas" that the TSE has reported to it to tally. Their observers also send in their own statistics gathered from their observations during the day.
In 2005 the TSE website said 2,190,398 people voted, from an electoral roll of 3,976,550 voters. According to Hagamos Democracia, 2,162,000 voted in 2009 from an electoral roll of 4.6 million. That's approximately 28,000 fewer people voting than voted in 2005, while the electoral roll increased by some 600,000 persons. The size of the electoral roll was supplied to Hagamos Democracia by the TSE prior to the election, and was the same number supplied to the press.
Bú told Tiempo that the TSE measured participation against a different electoral roll that was adjusted for emigration, deaths, etc, that the TSE did not share with them. Bú said that Hagamos Democracia was not adjusting the electoral roll for deaths and emigration because it did not have reliable enough information to do so.
To measure participation you need to know two things; how many people voted, and how many possible voters there were. In prior elections, including the 2005 election, participation was measured as a percentage of the whole electoral roll. For 2009, the TSE no longer wants to use the size of the electoral roll as registered, but rather some adjusted number that they're not publically releasing. This is transparent? For the TSE to measure against another value is disingenuous at best, and an attempt to deliberately mislead, at worst.
As I wrote this a correspondent wrote to tell me the TSE has recanted and now claims turnout was 49%. This was confirmed in an AFP story.