Imagine a scenario in the United States during a presidential election in which the sitting President picks up the phone in the evening when nearly three-quarters of the votes have been tallied and makes 50 calls—one to each top election official responsible for overseeing the counting and reporting in each of the 50 states.
Imagine that the President orders each election official to only report half of the votes tallied and cease all further reporting. Over the course of the next day, there is total silence. You know, the eerie kind. The process has come to a halt and there is no electoral information being reported. Suddenly, the vote count starts up and the results start flowing again. Well, this is kind of what happened in Honduras on November 26-27, 2017.
At around 1:40 am on November 27, David Matamoros, the president of Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had in his possession 71% of the actas (documents registering polling data from voting centers throughout the country) that had been received. At that point, Mr. Matamoros got a phone call from President Juan Orlando Hernández ordering him to only report the results of 57% of the actas. (reference: “¿David Matamoros Cometió Fraude?”)
Why not report all the votes tallied? And why stop reporting the votes in midstream? But a more fundamental dual question is: “What the hell was President Hernández doing calling the TSE president during election night and what in the name of heaven gave him the right to order the TSE president to do anything with regard to the election?” The President of Honduras doesn’t have the right to order or even suggest to the TSE president to go to the bathroom, much less manipulate the electoral count.
Uh, excuse me, but that’s a gross abuse of power (at the very least) and should easily qualify as a criminal offense. If a sitting President who is running for reelection can order or influence in any way the guy or gal in charge of the institution overseeing the electoral process, then that institution automatically becomes illegitimate and the electoral process automatically becomes invalid.
In such a scenario, the Office of the Presidency itself has become compromised and the President should be charged with a felony, indicted, tried in a court of law, and, if found guilty, imprisoned for an uncomfortably long time. And so should the TSE president.
(David, you should’ve said, “No Mr. President, sorry, can’t do it. This is supposed to be a democracy and I’m no crook.”)