Amid high demand for voter ID renewals, ARENA claims “technical fraud”

Posted by CISPES

News outlets have been reporting that the voter ID registration centers were flooded with applicants seeking to replace or renew their ID cards over the past few days. After the February 2 election, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced that there were over 500,000 people on the 2014 voter registry whose ID card (known as a DUI) had expired and hence would be unable to vote until they were renewed.

During a press conference, the President of the National Registry of Naturalized Persons (RNPN), Fernando Battle reported that the demand for DUIs had increased since February 28th. This graph from Diaro El Mundo shows the increase, especially in applications for replacement DUIs, since March 3rd.

Struggling to meet the processing demand, lines were long and, according to La Página, “hundreds” of people who were waiting in lines when the centers closed on Saturday at 2 pm were unable to get their DUI issued in time. RNPN President Battle issued an apology to those who had been waiting but were unable to have their DUIs issued before the centers closed at 2 pm, and regretted that the situation resulted in isolated altercations.

He also reported 303 cases in which DUIs were not able to be renewed because the numbers did not match those on the previous DUI, or in which names were presented incompletely; in such cases, birth certificates are required to prove identity. In total, according to Battle, a total of 55,244 DUIs had been issued and 33,034 had been renewed since February 3rd.

Quijano arrives at DUIcentro in Escalon Photo: Diario El Mundo

Quijano arrives at DUIcentro in Escalon Photo: Diario El Mundo

Whether ARENA intentionally provoked conflicts at the National ID centers or simply sought to take advantage of a difficult administrative situation, the party has seized this opportunity to continue its strategy of undermining the electoral authorities, perhaps setting the stage to challenge election results. Over the past two days, ARENA has made a series of claims that the elections authorities were intentionally limiting the number of people who were able to renew their DUIs before Sunday’s election.

On Friday, ARENA candidate Norman Quijano made a public appearance at a national ID center in the upscale neighborhood of Escalón in San Salvador to claim “technical fraud” was being committed. He claimed that ARENA party members who were attempting to renew their DUIs were being denied.

In response, FMLN spokesperson Roberto Lorenzana questioned ARENA’s motivation: “To speak of a technical fraud is another sign of their desperation.”

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