DI Support for El Salvador Elections Lauded
El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) President, Eugenio Chicas, praised DI’s work supporting the consolidation of Salvadoran democracy in a speech at the Fourth Latin American Conference on Electoral Justice on September 3. Mr. Chicas noted that for the March 2012 legislative and municipal elections, DI contributed to “the creation of strong bonds with civil society organizations.” DI worked with the TSE and other stakeholders ahead of the elections to implement important reforms to the electoral process. DI also led a successful nationwide voter educational campaign to inform voters about the new voting process and new polling locations. Mr. Chicas directly acknowledged Pablo Galarce, DI’s Chief of Party, for having played “an extraordinary role in the advancement and development of democracy in our country.”
The March elections marked an important step in the continuing consolidation of Salvadoran democracy by successfully incorporating recent reforms that dramatically changed the way elections are conducted, ballots are cast and counted, and results are transmitted. Beginning in October 2011, DI provided assistance to the TSE focused on four areas: (1) communications and voter education, (2) electoral operations, (3) information technology, and (4) vote counting and results transmission. DI strengthened the TSE’s communications capabilities by providing strategic planning and design support for voter education campaigns, assisting with the implementation of voter outreach efforts, and improving poll-worker training materials. DI supported electoral operations by assisting technical departments within TSE with their preparations. To improve the use of information technology, DI collaborated with the TSE communications team to upgrade its web-based capabilities. Lastly, DI supported the TSE’s vote counting and results transmission process by offering strategies to improve the efficiency of transmitting and reporting preliminary results as well as organizing and providing training for the final vote count process; in particular, DI worked with the TSE to conduct two important technical tests to ensure seamless results tabulation on election day.
DI also partnered with local NGOs to educate a greater number of Salvadoran voters on the new electoral process and on the importance of voting on this election. “Where-To-Vote” informational kiosks reinforced voter education efforts, by providing information on voting locations and an online simulation of the new process for casting ballots. DI also designed and printed a significant amount of civic and voter education materials, which were distributed by Salvadoran NGOs across the country. These creative materials focused in particular on reaching voters that may have not been informed otherwise, including women, young people, rural voters, and persons with disabilities.
Building on the democratic openings created in the country as a result of the March 2012 elections, DI has implemented a campaign to inform Salvadoran citizens on initiatives to strengthen democracy in the country, including efforts to protect the independence of the TSE and to reform regulations governing political parties and campaign finance. As TSE President Chicas noted, DI’s work in El Salvador contributed not only to smooth elections but also to the education of voters across the country and the development of an improved electoral system and voting infrastructure that will benefit both future elections and the consolidation of Salvadoran democracy.