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Cablegate: Cedula Application Deadline Extended, But

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1717/01 2201920
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081920Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7183
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0746
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001717

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2016
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NU
SUBJECT: CEDULA APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED, BUT
APPLICATION/DISTRIBUTION PROBLEMS REMAIN

REF: MANAGUA 1630 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (C) Summary: Under pressure from Movimiento por Nicaragua
(MpN) and other civil society groups (reftel), Nicaragua's
National Assembly voted on August 4 to extend the deadline
for soliciting the national voter/ID card from August 6 to
August 21. The media reported and CSE officials confirmed an
immediate drop in applications on August 5 and 6 after
potential voters learned they had two more weeks to
procrastinate. CSE official Rodrigo Barreto informed Emboffs
that the CSE does not plan to postpone release of the
official voters list (padron) or make other modifications to
the Electoral Calendar based on the deadline change; however,
he did claim that the CSE faces a budget crisis because the
Assembly did not approve additional funds. NDI and Etica y
Transparencia (EyT) officials later reported that only about
20 percent of cedula applicants are receiving their document
in a timely manner, delays which threaten the ability of
thousands to vote in the November 5 elections. End Summary.

ASSEMBLY VOTES TO EXTEND APPLICATION DEADLINE, BUT NOT ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR CSE
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2. (C) During a special plenary session on August 4, the
National Assembly approved a proposal by President Bolanos
that extends the cedula application deadline from August 6 to
August 21. The Assembly was pressured on the cedula issue by
the Presidency, MpN, and other civil society groups concerned
that large numbers of eligible voters, especially young
voters, had not yet filed applications (reftel). The long
lines of applicants evident the previous week dissipated in
most areas of the country as Nicaraguans took advantage of
the reprieve to procrastinate.

3. (C) Emboffs met with senior CSE official Rodrigo Barreto
on August 7 to ask about the implications of the deadline
postponement for the Electoral Calendar. Barreto claimed
that the CSE has no plans to push back any of the dates that
depend on the cedula application deadline (such as the
release of the updated padron), but will instead work harder
to make up for the delay. He stated, however, that because
the Assembly failed to approve additional funds, and the CSE
will have to pay an extra 12-15 million cordobas
($686,000-$857,000) to contract employees working on cedula
applications, the Council will not have funds to pay salaries
in October and November. Barreto also confided that the
pressure to issue cedulas has caused some CSE employees to
approve applications without fully vetting applicants with
the civil registry, padron, and police records, which has
weakened safeguards against fraud.

NDI: CSE FAILS TO ISSUE CEDULAS EFFICIENTLY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) NDI and EyT officials met with Ambassador and emboffs
on August 7 to present a report on cedula issuance and
distribution. The report, based on a sample of 500-600
cases, revealed that only about 20 percent of cedula
applicants receive a cedula within 90 days (the CSE's
self-designated waiting period) of filing their paperwork,
though this figure rises to 30 percent for "persistent"
applicants. The study also indicated that 43 percent of
applicants that enjoyed some sort of assistance from a
political party were able to obtain a cedula within that time
period (although NDI officials cautioned that this figure is
based upon a very small sample). On the positive side,
researchers confirmed that valid applicants are almost always
immediately entered into the padron.

5. (C) NDI officials noted that some local electoral
authorities are more efficient at issuing cedulas within the
90-day time period than others: from over 60 percent in some
Departments to zero percent in others. NDI will focus on
these good and bad performers and work with IFES to identify
"road blocks" in the cedulation process. EyT director
Roberto Courtney commented that even the "efficient"
authorities will likely not be able to produce and deliver
sufficient voting documents before the elections, so the CSE
may have to consider other alternatives, such as allowing
citizens to vote with a colilla (cedula application receipt).

6. (C) Comment: NDI officials requested Embassy's advise on how to present findings and recommendations to the CSE. Ambassador cautioned that the CSE is reeling from a constant barrage of criticism over the cedula process and very defensive. Hence, the report should lead with positive findings, such as the efficient padron updates and examples of local authorities who are processing applications efficiently, and focus on constructive recommendations.

TRIVELLI

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