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OAS Observation Mission Highlights Institutional Strength of U.S. System

  November 9, 2016

The report of the Mission highlights strong points and opportunities for improvement in the electoral process in the United States.

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) to the general elections in the United States today congratulated the winners – especially President-elect Donald Trump – and recognized the civic behavior of the citizens and the officials who participated in the process, in its presentation of the preliminary report on its work, which mentioned the strong points and opportunities for improvement in the process.

The report, based on the observations of the 41 members and thematic experts of the Mission deployed in the states of California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia, recognizes that normalcy prevailed across the country, and when issues arose, “solved efficiently following the contingency procedures that were in place.”

The Mission also highlighted that, at the conclusion of an electoral campaign marked by polarization, the electoral process confirmed that “U.S. democracy goes beyond the particularities of an electoral process. It is based on its institutional strength, freedom of expression and press, balance of power, the rule of law and the principles on which this country was founded.”

The Chief of Mission and former President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla said that, at the end “of a passionate and controversial campaign, citizens were able to express their differences through institutional mechanisms, in a free, harmonious, and respectful way. This attitude will be what should inspire the political leadership of this country, to achieve the complex but urgent task of uniting the people in the search for common aspirations.”

“We congratulate Donald Trump, the 45th President-elect of this country and heir to an institutional legacy of democracy, freedom and tolerance. Moreover, we celebrate the attitude of Secretary Hillary Clinton, who with great democratic conviction recognized the electoral results and offered her collaboration to the next President,” she added.

The report – that specifically analyzes the issues of electoral organization, the use of technology, political participation, campaign finance and media, highlights, among other issues, the following strengths:

  • The political process is public, transparent and verifiable, and is based on weights and counterweights at every step.
  • The systems for resolution of controversies work efficiently and expeditiously, something particularly noteworthy in the case of ordinary justice
  • Voting centers opened on time, had all necessary materials and were staffed with properly trained officials
  • “The culture of service and professionalism of electoral officials observed across the different states”, that “provided voters with a safe and convenient way to vote.”
  • The efforts of electoral efforts to facilitate access for persons with disabilities.

Among the opportunities for improvement identified by the Mission are:

  • Taking measures to avoid the excessive concentration of voters and long lines in the voting centers.
  • Broaden the cooperation between states to compare information and avoid possible duplications in voter registries.
  • Expand the practice of designing electoral districts through independent, non-partisan commissions.
  • Analyze the impact of the decision of the Supreme Court to eliminate parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Establish better and stricter rules to govern PACs and super PACs.
  • Leave behind the polarizing and divisive campaign rhetoric and promote a civil dialogue between opposing visions.

The OAS Mission will present a final report to the Permanent Council of the OAS in the coming months.

Reference: E-118/16