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FACT SHEET: Electoral Observation Missions of the OAS

  September 13, 2016

  • On June 30, 2016, the Government of the United States of America invited the Organization of American States to observe the General Elections to be held on November 8, 2016. On July 11, 2016, the Secretary General accepted the invitation and instructed the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO) to organize the EOM and start the process of preparing external funds to finance the Mission.
  • Since 1962, the OAS has deployed more than 240 Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) in 26 of the 34 Member States of the OAS, including more than 5,000 International Observers. The United States of America will soon become country number 27.
  • In 2014, 15 Missions were deployed and 14 in 2015. On October 25, 2015 the OAS deployed three Electoral Observation Missions with more than 230 observers in 3 sub-regions: Central America (Guatemala), South America (Colombia) and the Caribbean (Haiti). This was the first time three EOMs were deployed in three different countries on the same day.
  • So far in 2016, the OAS has deployed 7 EOMs. In the upcoming months, the OAS will observe elections in Colombia, Haiti and the United States of America.
  • The Secretary General of the OAS appointed the former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, to be Chief of Mission of the United States of America EOM.
  • This will be the first time the OAS observes elections in the United States of America, which offers an historic opportunity to promote the work of the OAS in encouraging free and fair elections in the Americas.
  • These principles are: autonomy, objectivity and neutrality.
  • The main objective of the EOMs of the OAS is to observe the processes, encouraging them to be more transparent, professional and integral. In this way, the OAS contributes to the strengthening of democratic processes.
  • The EOMs are technical tools with standard criteria that are equally applied in all Member States when they are deployed.
  • EOMs criteria are public and are clearly defined in the Electoral Observation Manuals of the OAS.
  • The OAS has extensive and recognized technical expertise in electoral observation with very high standards, which has been recognized even outside the region. Countries in Eastern Europe and Africa have requested assistance from the OAS regarding these issues.
  • The Electoral Missions of the OAS have been progressively expanding the scope of their work. The OAS observes political inclusion (gender equality, participation of indigenous peoples and afro descendants, voting abroad and participation of people with disabilities), the electoral process as such (technology and logistics, media, electoral justice) and the integrity of elections (campaign financing, security and electoral crimes).
  • Each Mission presents a verbal report to the Permanent Council of the OAS, which includes a detailed account of the activities of the Mission, its observations and recommendations to local authorities. All reports are public and available at
  • The EOMs of the OAS are funded entirely with funds from donor countries. The country under observation is always excluded as a potential donor.
  • On Election Day, OAS observers will be deployed to 13 states of California, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

Reference: S-015/16