Twelve Questions for the National Electoral Council About Voting in Cuba

he president of the National Electoral Council (CEN), Alina Balseiro. (Twitter/Elecciones en Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Bueno Aires, 1 April 2023 –The president of the National Electoral Council (CEN), Alina Balseiro, held a press conference to give the final results of the elections for the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) of Cuba held last Sunday, March 26. In it she reported that the electoral roll changed during the day of voting, something common in Cuba, increasing by about 9,000 voters due to the “compatibilization”of the lists of electors.

She pointed out that according to official data, the participation increased to 75.89% (6,167,605), and that “all deputies were elected with more than 61% of the valid votes cast as required by the electoral law, with free, equal, direct and secret voting.”

She reiterated on several occasions that the electoral process was transparent and even said that “for us it’s not a problem if they want audit us.”

Electoral Transparency took the floor and officially requested a comprehensive audit of the different phases of the electoral process.

Despite the statements of the head of the CEN, the Cuban elections are essentially autocratic — by clauses established in the Constitution: a single-party regime and the irrevocability of socialism — and technically opaque.

By their nature they are non-competitive elections, which only serve to seek to legitimize the candidates previously selected by the mass organizations subordinate to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). Procedurally they are inscrutable, because there are no cross-checks, independent audits or national and/or international electoral observation.

So Electoral Transparency proposes to carry out an audit that can respond to issues such as:

1. What are the criteria used by the National Candidacy Commission for the selection of the 470 candidates from a universe of more than 19,000 that had been initially announced?

2. What are the selection criteria for election officials?

3. What are the criteria for the selection of the vote counting authorities, what type of training did they receive and how were  they evaluated?

4. What is the criterion for the selection of polling places? How is accessibility  guaranteed?

5. What are the security measures for deploying the electoral material? Do the ballots have any identification? How do you make sure they are authentic? Which agency is in charge of reporting on the operation?

6. How is the electoral roll made up and how is it checked?

7. How do you ensure that a person does not vote in two or more polling centers? What is the procedure for crossing out those who have already voted? How is the consolidation carried out?

8. What are the protocols for the transfer of the ballot box once the election is over? How is the chain of custody of the material guaranteed in case a recount is necessary?

9. What are the reasons for reopening a ballot box?

10. How can observers appeal the count if they don’t agree with it, and for what reasons?

11. Where are the minutes for the count? Why aren’t they published and open to the public in digital format?

12. What is the system of transmission and consolidation of data? Who audits it?

These are just a few of the issues that could be analyzed in a comprehensive audit, which, although it would not reverse the anti-democratic mood of the election, could account for its technical solidity.

Electoral Transparency asked the National Electoral Council to open up to an independent audit after the 2022 municipal elections with the aim of making the aforementioned points clear before holding the March 26 elections. However, there was no opening on the part of the electoral body.

Given that on this occasion the head of the CEN, Alina Balseiro, publicly expresses that they are open to an audit, and considering that the results have generated justified doubts because there is no relationship between the percentage of participation announced and the number of voters in the voting centers, Electoral Transparency reiterates the request to audit the process. The technical team of the organization is available to travel to Havana and implement a comprehensive audit.

Unfortunately, the CEN website is not in operation at the time of publication of this statement, so Electoral Transparency communicates the proposal via Twitter.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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