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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mayoral race in San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula, a city with an estimated population of 1 million to 1.5 million people, voted for a new mayor yesterday.

In a 1 million person population we'd expect 50.7 % to be of voting age, or 507,000 eligible voters, according to the TSE's own statements about the Honduran population. So what actually happened in San Pedro Sula, where yesterday there was public demonstration against the coup, and police repression of these demonstrators and of independent radio?

Expected turnout for San Pedro Sula, using the TSE's claim late Sunday of 61.3% participation, would be something like 307,ooo votes.

At 10 PM, the TSE's presidential vote tally had supposedly covered 61.86% of the votes.

Checking the math there to be sure this percentage is accurate, the reported total counted at that point of 1.716 million presidential ballots out of 4.6 million eligible voters of whom 61.3% were expected to vote matches this claimed percentage counted fairly well.

Unless something odd happened, we might thus expect that reports of other races at the same time would include the majority of the votes cast.

Yet La Prensa, last evening, in its Minute By Minute column, reported on far fewer than 100,000 votes for mayor of San Pedro Sula at the same time.

The results presented last night, on the basis of which the election for mayor was called, were:

Juan Carlos Zuniga (Liberal party) 33,185
Tuky Bendaña (Nationalist party) 29,796

This is a total of 62,981 votes.

Unless you want to claim that fewer people voted for Mayor than voted for President--the opposite of which was true in the last election-- the implication is that turnout in San Pedro was heading to be somewhat less than the 307,000 voters the TSE turnout estimates would claim.

How would San Pedro's reported numbers match up to the more modest (and we think, more believable) turnout estimates of the official exit polling? Remember that they said participation rates were just 47.6% of eligible voters.

This would lead us to expect ca. 240,000 voters in San Pedro Sula yesterday.

If the same proportion of votes were counted in San Pedro Sula by 10 PM, then we would expect something like 150,000 votes to have been reported.

Let's go further, and assume the registered level of null and void votes as were seen nationally (6.38%); we still would have expected to see about 140,000 votes reported.

Now, maybe they count the votes from the other races differently, or more slowly, or the precincts sampled for the national election somehow under-represent voting in San Pedro Sula.

But we will be watching to see what the final vote for mayor of San Pedro Sula actually is. And we suggest this kind of attention to local races will be well worthwhile for others as well.

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