Nicaragua: Election Observation Mission
The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) is a private, nonprofit organization which was established in 1987 to provide technical, educational, and informational support to electoral bodies and other organizations around the world working to increase effective citizen participation in democratic elections. Its nonpartisan and technical focus has enabled IFES to conduct projects, conferences and election observation missions in over eighty countries. In addition, the Foundation has played a leading role worldwide in designing a methodology to evaluate the pre-electoral environment as a first step for international projects.
In September of 1995, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and IFES signed an agreement to assist with the Nicaraguan general elections scheduled for October of 1996. In May 1996, IFES opened a field office in Managua to facilitate its goals of: conducting a pre-electoral assessment, providing in situ technical assistance, election education, civic education, and international election observation.
Taking into account that the electoral results would be very close and could present difficulties in establishing the credibility of the elections, IFES prepared a pre-electoral assessment which was used as a basis for the election observation mission. The assessment exposed some of the technical problems encountered with respect to the voters' registration list (padron electoral). Moreover, administrative and intra-institutional difficulties that could affect the logistics on election day were also uncovered. The Consejo Supremo Electoral (CSE), Nicaragua's supreme electoral body, was notified of the problems IFES detected. Recommendations for solving the problems were also communicated to the CSE.
Based on the pre-electoral assessment, IFES determined that the objectives for the observation mission were:
• Follow-up of the pre-electoral environment
• Study the legal and administrative aspects of the electoral process
• Voter registration
• Voter documents
• Political parties
• Civic education campaign
• Public opinion polls
• Make-up and duties of the polling stations (Junta Receptora de Votos - JRV)
• Counting of votes
• Communication and transmission of election results
• National observation
• International observation
• Election Results