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Cablegate: Election Aftermath: Quick Count Founders at 70%;

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FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
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INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6084
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2096
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 0154
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PLEASE PASS ALSO TO USOAS AND USAID/LAC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV EC
SUBJECT: ELECTION AFTERMATH: QUICK COUNT FOUNDERS AT 70%;
SLOW COUNT COMMENCES

1. (SBU) Summary: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on
October 16 unilaterally cancelled its $5.8 million quick
count contract with Brazilian firm E-Vote after the firm
failed to deliver results on time on election night. As a
result, official results must await until after more
labor-intensive vote certification and reporting are
completed by the provincial election councils--which could
take more than a week. Although results are not likely to
vary much from the initial results, uncertainty generated by
technical difficulties has fueled protests and claims of
fraud from second place finisher, Rafael Correa. End Summary.

2. (U) E-Vote had promised presidential results would be
reported to the central TSE and the public by 7:30 pm on
October 15 and congressional results would be tabulated by
midnight. The firm's system crashed on the morning after
elections with only 70% of presidential results reported and
little or none of the congressional results tabulated. While
press earlier reported E-Vote executives had left the
country, E-Vote country representative Santiago Murray issued
a statement admitting the slowness of the quick count,
denying any breach of contract and confirming E-Vote will
remain in Ecuador. Several political parties have called for
the arrest of E-Vote executives. (Note: Votes were manually
counted in each of the more than 36,000 polling places by
poll workers under TSE supervision; E-Vote was responsible
for electronically delivering and compiling those results
centrally. Those manual counts took place and are being sent
to provincial TSE authorities; what fell short was the quick
central tallying and reporting. End Note.) The TSE stopped
payment of the remaining $2.9 million of the E-Vote contract,
and hope to recover some information (not ballots) about the
vote from the E-Vote executives.

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3. (SBU) TSE officials tell us they are confident of their
ability to do their own count of the votes within a week
after election-day. That count has been ongoing since late
on October 15, and is taking place in each of the provincial
electoral commissions. Smaller provinces traditionally
report results faster than the largest provinces. A TSE
board member told the press that 3% of the results were
reported on the morning of October 16, and predicted that
count would rise to 50% by the end of the day.

4. (SBU) Jose Teran, the TSE's International Affairs Chief,
admitted to us the E-Vote debacle represented a severe blow
to the TSE's credibility, especially since many candidates,
congressional deputies and the media were criticizing the
costly contract in the days before the election. He also
said E-Vote's failure is much worse than the problems in the
last two elections. In 2004, Spanish firm Indra contracted
to complete a quick count. While results came in slower than
promised, the firm eventually completed the job.

5. (SBU) Ecuador radical leftist radio station La Luna is
inviting listeners to protest against these developments in
front of the well-protected TSE building; about 400
protesters have gathered. The OAS has convoked a meeting of
member states to discuss this latest setback later on October
16, which we will attend. We have urged the TSE to reassure
the public that all ballots are physically secure and that
the absconding E-Vote executives did not get away with
election materials.

6. (SBU) Comment: New uncertainty over the official vote
count will likely be seized on by Correa to challenge
results. It remains to be seen whether Correa and his
supporters will be successful in sowing doubt among the
public. Although all exit polls and quick counts reported
thus far have had the same results, it will be hard but not
impossible for public opinion to be swayed. To prevent this,
we will continue to urge maximum transparency from the TSE.
JEWELL

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