I base my following comments on a foray out this morning and a later one in the afternoon around poll closing time. Dili is crawling with international election monitors (ie scrutineers, observers), many wearing fishing jackets. The award for the most stylish fishing jacket goes to the EU team, followed by Japan and the UNDP jacket in last place.
Voting hours were 7am to 4pm. Everyone expected voters to go early and indeed they did. There were long queues from opening time, but by noon in most places, the queues had gone and there was no late charge at all.
One of the observers told me that this had been the pattern in most places, with hardly a vote at all in the last hour. There were no signs of malingering youths around polling places that I could see. All the queuing was orderly, quiet, peaceful and there was no sign of frustration, even after queueing in hot conditions for over half an hour. There was no sign of any disorganisation and most people walked to the polling places so even traffic (and parking) didn’t seem an issue.
I am accustomed to seeing party faithful handing out how-to-vote cards, but there was no such thing here. I think all campaigning of that sort is not permitted.
The authorities elected to go for a system where the counting is done at the polling place itself and in the public eye (ie direct eyes of party representatives and other international and national observers, with others looking from the windows).
The boxes are opened and each paper assigned its preference under this gaze and the results tallied on a large sheet of paper stuck on the wall. Very simple and very transparent. But the process of aggregating the results is perhaps not as slick as most of us westerners are accustomed to.
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We, in the west would be looking for a tally room but I don’t think they have one. I think the voting authority (STAE) pass the results to the independent election committee (CNE) who publish the results as they see fit. Doesn’t have the same drama that a tally room has.
Read more at the Dili-gence blog.