Honduras Electoral Authority Should Be Transparent in Presenting Voting Results

By Geoff Thale for the Washington Office on Latin America

Washington, DC — After Honduras held national elections on Sunday, November 26, the country’s highest electoral authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Supremo Electoral, TSE) announced yesterday that it would not declare a winner in the presidential race until Thursday, November 30. Results that the TSE released early Monday morning showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla had approximate five percentage point lead compared to incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández, although both candidates have declared themselves to be the winner with some 57 percent of the vote counted, the Associated Press reported. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the hemisphere, the decision of the TSE to go silent over why it needs an extended period of time to process the full results could increase political tensions in Honduras, and will do little to improve public trust in Honduras’ election process.

“Honduras’ top electoral authority needs to practice transparency and keep the Honduran people informed as the vote count advances. Going silent creates a cloud of suspicion over what should be a transparent and independent process,” said WOLA’s Director for Citizen Security Adriana Beltrán.

Members of Honduras’ political opposition had previously raised concerns about the integrity of the electoral process prior to the November 26 elections. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) echoed these concerns in a New York Times op-ed that examined whether Honduras’ presidential elections would truly be “free and fair.”

“The international community and the U.S. government should urge Honduran electoral authorities to be more forthcoming. They must give a credible explanation for the delay in tallying the votes, and make it clear that they are finishing counting the votes in an honest and transparent way. The Honduran people deserve praise for their peaceful electoral process and their high turnout rate, but the lack of clear information from the electoral authority is now muddying the waters and tensions are rising fast,” said Beltrán.

The 2017 national elections in Honduras were marked by a series of controversies regarding candidates and voter rolls.

“There’s a great deal of mistrust, and Hondurans are understandably anxious about democratic norms. This only makes it all the more urgent that the Honduran electoral authority make its process as transparent and open as possible,” said WOLA’s Vice President of Programs Geoff Thale.

Hannah Rose Nelson