Peru Election 2006

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Transparencia and IDEA Forum on Military and Police Voters in Peru

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Maxwell A. Cameron
February 26, 2006

Under the auspices of IDEA and Transparencia, a working breakfast on “Military and Police Voters in Peru” was held on Thursday, February 23, 2006. What follows is a brief summary some of the key issues and conclusions to emerge from the discussion. Participants holding public office (see list below) spoke on a not-for-attribution basis.
Photo: J. Bazo
The armed forces and police will vote for the first time in modern Peruvian history in the elections for president, congress, and Andean parliament on April 9, 2006. It is estimated that there are 150,000 potential voters in uniform (roughly 62,000 members of the armed forces, and 87,000 members of the police), but only 84,000 are enumerated on the list of eligible voters.
Of the total potential voters in the armed forces and police, as many as 46,000 may be unable to vote due to assignments on election day. There will be over 4,200 voting stations throughout Peru, and about 10 police or soldiers will be assigned to each station. Military and police personnel may be under orders of restricted mobility, which mean they are obliged to remain at their post (for example, guarding a school where people are voting) during the day. They may not have time during their breaks to make their way to their own polling station before balloting closes.
Enrique Bernales. Photo: J. Bazo
Enrique Bernales emphasized the seriousness of the problem, saying that some members of the military and police have been “given the right to vote but are not permitted to use it.” The issue is especially sensitive since one candidate, Ollanta Humala, is a retired military officer who claims to have support within the armed forces.
Fernando Tuesta. Photo: J. Bazo
Fernando Tuesta said that the extension of the vote to members of the armed forces needs to be accompanied by a scaling back of military involvement in the organization of elections. A smaller number of police and soldiers could protect the perimeter around each polling station rather than being posted in each room where balloting takes place.
A more efficient allocation of military personnel will not solve the problem of members of the armed forces stationed in areas far from home who have not renewed their national identity cards (DNI). Since the election list was closed in December 2005, there is no way for such individuals to vote in this election. However, as Rafael Roncagliolo noted, it is important to identify problems that can be addressed in the post-electoral period. There will be elections in November 2006 for regional and municipal governments, and the list of voters will not be closed until July.
Rafael Roncagliolo. Photo: J. Bazo
Percy Medina suggested that measures could be taken to make is easier and quicker to get a new identity card. Participants recognized that measures to expedite the renewal of identity cards would benefit both civilian and military voters. In addition to the armed forces and police, other potential voters face impediment to the exercise of the suffrage. Prison inmates who have not been sentenced are legally entitled to vote yet there are no polling stations in prisons. Like the military, medical staff and journalists work on election day.
Percy Medina. Photo: J. Bazo
The total number of voters in the military and police is not large in quantitative terms. They amount to one half of one percent of the total electorate of 16.5 million voters. The tighter the margins of electoral victory, however, the more potentially significant their votes could be. The problem is magnified by the possibility that candidates might use the issue seek to discredit the election result. There is, however, no valid public policy justification for assigning priority to the military vote over other impediments to voting such as the estimated 250,000 people in the highlands and jungle areas who do not have birth certificates.
Alberto Adrianzén, Comunidad Andina de Naciones
Engelbert Barreto Huamán, Jurado Nacional de Elecciones
Jorge Bazo, “Peru Election 2006” Weblog
Moises Benamor, Organization of American States
Enrique Bernales, Comisión Andina de Juristas
Eric Bertram, Embajada de Canadá
Maxwell A. Cameron, University of British Columbia
Ana Maria Tamayo, Instituto de Defensa Legal
Luz Marina Vera, Organizacion Nacional de Procesos Electorales
Percy Medina, Transparencia
Luis Nunes, Instituto Nacional Democratica
Ronalth Ochaeta, Organization of American States
Rafael Roncagliolo, IDEA
Luis C. Seghelmeble Riera, RENIEC
Fernando Tuesta, La Universidad Católica

Written by Michael Ha

February 26th, 2006 at 6:29 pm

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