I just returned from Honduras where I worked the elections as an official international observer. The process was clean and transparent. At each polling station there were representatives of all 5 political parties. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal trained directly more than 96,000 citizens so all the rules would be observed and the vote and count would go as smoothly as possible.The voter had to show their National ID which was checked against a certified photocopy at the polling place. After voting indelible ink was applied to the pinky finger of the right hand.
At 5 O´Clock when the polls closed, the remaining ballots were voided and sealed in a special envelope, their serial numbers duly noted on a form for that purpose.
First, the presidentail ballot box was opened and the votes tabulated before the members of the polling place representing the 5 parties on the ballot. The ballots were printed with photos of the candidates above their names to ease the process. A wag at one of the polling stations that I monitored pasted a photo of a popular sports announcer named Salvador Nasrallah(No relation to the terrorist Hassan)on the ballot which voided it. There are no write-in votes in Honduras!There were very few void and blank ballots voted.After wards the same process took place with the ballot box for mayors and finally the thoird ballot box which was for the unicameral house.
At the end of the count each polling place had a preprogrammed cell phone which could only call one number to announce the vote count of that precinct. A reception code would verify the cell phone as the one assigned to that polling station. This was done to allow an official projection to be reached within a short period of times as the exit polls by the news organizations would be released not before two hours after the polls closed. Any leaks prior to this time would result in huge fines.
This process worked very well as all parties had to sign off on the results and approve the call.
I witnessed the friendliness and respect that the poll workers had for each other.There were no incidents of violence,insults or anything of the kind at least in the locations in Tegucigalpa,Nacaome and Sabana Grande where I monitored the voting. Other observers from Spain, Sweden, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Chile with whom I talked too voiced similar comments.
Among the international observers were Ambassador Armando Valladares,
Ray Walser from the Heritage Foundation,Eduard Kozusnik of the Czech Parliament,Boguslaw Sonik of Poland, Christian Holm ,Conservative Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Swedish Parliament ,Jim Colbert of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs,Juán Salafranca of the Partido Popular Europeo,opponent of the Spanish socialist government,Armando Calderón, ex President of El Salvador and Colonel Victor Boitano, retired Nicaraguan army officer and sworn enemy of Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chávez.
An estimated 62 % of the Honduran people voted. They refused to be intimidated by the threats coming from the Zelaya-Chávez supporters who called themselves the resistance ,but ended up being a non-factor when the rubber hit the road.The actual percentage in reality is much higher as there are over a million Hondurans living in the USA and 160,000 in Spain . Many of these people are illegal immigrants and others live too far from the polling stations set up.(Miami, New Orleans, Houston, New York and Los Angeles.) In Spain there just weren´t any stations at all.
Porfirio Lobo of the National Party won in a landslide by a better than 17 point margin over Liberal Party Candidate Elvin Santos who was gracious in defeat a la John McCain. Both of these parties are more than a hundred years old and in recent years have had close elections.
We will have to wait for wednesday to see the deiberations of the Honduras congress over the fate of the deposed president Zelaya who tried and failed to betray his country by bcoming an errand boy of Hugo Chávez.
Congratulations to the people of Honduras. They drew a line in the sand with their votes and sent a message to Hugo Chávez which he´ll never forget!