The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received the oral report of the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) that accompanied the process of general elections in Ecuador on February 17, which was presented by the Chief of Mission Rafael Alburquerque, who stressed the "great civic spirit" of Ecuadorians.
The Chief of Mission explained that the EOM/OAS consisted of 68 observers from 20 countries, including specialists in electoral organization, technology, political analysis, campaign finance, media and gender issues. For the first time, he added, the OAS observed the vote of Ecuadorians abroad, in the cities of Washington, DC and Madrid. The observers were deployed in 18 of the 24 provinces of the country and observed the delivery of materials, the training of members of the voting centers, and Election Day itself, from opening to closing and including the vote count at polling stations.
The Chief of Mission applauded the high participation of Ecuadorians in the election and said that "the public expressed its will at the polls freely and without obstacles." The MOE report recognized the specific services provided by the Ecuadorian authorities to contribute to citizen participation, with special recognition of the program of "preferential voting" for elderly people, pregnant women, or people carrying children in their arms; and the pilot program "vote at home," held in the city of Ambato, where officials took ballot boxes to the homes of 18 people with disabilities so they could cast their votes.
Among the conclusions and recommendations of the EOM/OAS, Albuquerque recommended continuing "efforts to strengthen institutions and training of staff;" planning the process "with greater anticipation, to allow enough time for testing and drills;" the development of policies of information security; the completion of training for members of the polling stations at least one week before the election; and not separating voters by gender, but in alphabetical order.
In addition, said Chief of Mission Alburquerque, the Mission recommended delivery of electoral rolls to political parties for their use in campaigns; updating voter rolls and make them accessible at polling stations; consider "certain reforms that would better guarantee gender parity in the process;" reducing the risks associated with the use of public resources for electoral purposes through regulations to clarify the actions and behaviors that violate the equal competition" and determining "appropriate penalties;" "conducting the necessary tests at national level" of data transmission equipment; "ensure that the polling places are large enough" to accommodate voters abroad, and signaling more clearly the location of polling places.
Roxana Silva, member of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Ecuador, who met before the session with the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, thanked the Mission for its report and recommendations, some of which, she said "are already being taken into consideration for the 2014 elections." In addition, Silva said, "We are convinced that all these recommendations will serve to strengthen institutions and democracy in Ecuador."
The Secretary General thanked the government of Ecuador for "the disposition, when the election has been carried out so well and so properly, so successfully, to listen to these comments and opinions and to discuss their implementation." In that sense, the leader of the hemispheric institution explained that EOMs are carried out even "in countries that do not have many problems in elections" because "we too are interested in learning, and I think this is a case where what we’ve learned about best practices is more than we’ve contributed in terms of suggestions."
During the session, the Permanent Representatives of Haiti, the United States, Peru, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Honduras and Colombia all took part.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event will be available here.
The audio of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.