Cablegate: The Nitty Gritty: A Closer Look at the Angolan

DE RUEHLU #0691/01 2471727
P 031727Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Angola's legislative elections on
September 5 represent the culmination of a massive logistical
undertaking. The process has been sophisticated, imperfect,
impressive, and chaotic. Ultimately, however, we assess that
the electoral process will be viewed as a credible vehicle to
express the will of the Angolan voters. End Summary.

2. (U) There will be 12,400 polling stations nation wide,
each of which will have up to four voting tables staffed by a
minimum of three and maximum of five polling agents. In
addition, each table will have two electoral police, who are
unarmed civilians tasked with controlling traffic in and out
of the voting area. To prepare their staff, the National
Electoral Commission (CNE) gave over 275,000 individuals a
five-day training program. The EU observation mission told
the Embassy that the length and duration of training far
exceed international norms, but, nonetheless, there is
concern that some staff members may have forgotten the
training as it took place many weeks ago in some cases.

3. (U) The CNE began delivering basic supplies for the
stations (tables, chairs, lamps, etc.) to the provinces in
late July and the ballets, voting lists and other sensitive
materials are to have been delivered on September 2. Polling
stations will open nationwide on September 5 at 0700, with
the staff arriving at 0500 to review the materials, seal the
empty ballot boxes, and allow election workers and observers
to vote before polls open to the public. Voting ends at
1800, but those in line prior to 1800 will be allowed to

Voting Procedures

4. (U) As the general population comes to vote, the polling
station staff first checks for ink on the right index finger,
an indicator that the voter had previously voted, and then
authenticates the voter's voter registration card checks off
the name on the voter rolls. The ballot is paper and
contains the name, flag, and initials of the parties in an
order determined by lottery. After voting, the voter folds
the ballot and drops it in a translucent, sealed ballot box.
Polling station staff then dips the voter's right index
finger in indelible ink, completing the voting process.

Poll Monitors and Observers

5. (U) Political party delegates (poll watchers) are allowed
to monitor the voting and can inspect all electoral
materials. Should they note any irregularities in the
process, they must immediately notify the president of the
voting table, who is also obliged to note the irregularity in
the table's official record. Complaints that are not noted
at the time of occurrence will not subsequently be further
investigated by higher authorities. All party delegates must
be properly accredited by provincial or municipal electoral
authorities; their credentials clearly note their party

6. (SBU) Unlike the 1992 elections, civil society observers
will be allowed to observe inside polling stations. They
cannot make notes in the voting station, lodge official
complaints with polling station staff, or in any way
interfere with the voting process. Observers must also be
officially accredited by electoral authorities.

Vote counting

7. (U) After the voting is completed, the president of each
table counts all used and unused voting materials in full
view of all at the polling station. If the number of names
crossed off the registration list equals the number of
ballots cast, then counting begins. If the number of names
crossed off the registration list does not equal the number
of ballots cast, then according to the electoral law the
number in the ballot box overrides the registration list and
counting also begins. The actual counting procedure starts
with the table president opening and verbally calling out the
selected party, or determining that a ballot is blank or
null. These announcements are recorded by a second staff
member, while the ballots are separated into piles by party.
Finally, a third staff member recounts the votes in each pile
and this is verified with the tally from the verbal scoring.
Announcements are also confirmed by all political party
delegates present. Once the counting at each table is
completed, the head of the polling station tabulates the
combined results and then posts the results from all of the

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tables at the polling station on the door of the polling


8. (U) If a party delegate objects to the table president's
decision about any ballot, (for example, that the ballot
should not be considered null, or that another party was
marked on the ballot), the complaint must be immediately
stated; all disputed ballots are piled separately and will be
reviewed at the municipal electoral office. Complaints that
are not made at the time of counting will not be subsequently


9. (U) The ballots, packed within double tamper-proof bags,
then begin a three-tiered verification process. First stop
is the Municipal Election Office (GME), where formal
complaints by the party delegates are reviewed, which could,
consequently, alter the final tallies from each polling
station. The GME then transmits the results by fax to both
the Provincial Election Commission (CPE) and the CNE control
center in Luanda. Ballots are also transported to the CPE,
which will verify and count special ballots and allow for a
second round of complaints. Then these results, which
conceivably could be revised due to review of complaints, are
computerized for the final tabulation at the provincial
level. These provincial results must be completed,
transmitted to the CNE, and posted on the door of the office
by seven days following the election (September 12). The
final stop is the CNE in Luanda. The CNE takes a final look
at contested issues and must declare the final results and
parliamentary seat allocation by 15 days after the election
(September 20.)

The Great Unknown: Special Ballots & Possible Delayed Polling
--------------------------------------------- ---------

10. (SBU) Voters who are away from their assigned voting
station for a legitimate reason or who have lost their voter
registration card will be allowed to vote by special tendered
ballot. To accommodate these tender ballots, the CNE has
given each polling station 15% more ballots than voters
registered in its locality. Special ballots are placed in a
sealed blank envelope, then in a cover envelope in which the
voter's identification information is written; the package is
then deposited in a separate ballot box. To enable station
agents to account for all ballots at their table, at the end
of the day the special ballot box will be opened and the
number of envelopes counted, but the envelopes will not be
opened. Special ballots will be opened only at the CPE,
after the voter is verified to be registered voter. The need
to verify and count special ballots and the logistical
difficulty in transporting them to the CPE is one reason that
the GRA extended the allotted time to announce results at the
provincial level from 10 days to 15 days (reftel).

11. (SBU) Procedures for securing and counting special
ballots remain unclear. There are clear international norms
for these procedures: in order to maintain the secrecy of the
vote and ensure that votes are counted towards the correct
province, voters should be verified, the envelope then
divided by province, i.e., all envelopes from voters who are
registered in Luanda should go in one pile, Benguela in
another, Huambo in another, etc., the cover envelopes then
removed and all blank envelopes mixed together before opening
and counting the ballots. The fact that these procedures
have not been articulated by the CNE as late as two days
before the election is troubling to political parties and to
international and civil society observation groups.

12. (SBU) Another prospective issue is the potential for
delayed polling for some polling stations. The electoral law
states that, should a polling station be unable to open or
have its operations interrupted for more than three hours due
to security problems or other "incidents" (a word widely
interpreted to include logistical problems such as delayed
deliver of polling station materials), voting will take place
within a period of eight days. If this occurs in a limited
number of areas, such that the number of missing votes cannot
impact the final tally, the CNE can announce the final
results without waiting for these votes to be cast and
counted. If, however, delayed voting occurs in a significant
number of stations, the announcement of final results could
be delayed up to eight additional days.

13. (SBU) COMMENT: In planning Angola,s first election in
16 years, electoral authorities seek nothing less than a

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world-class electoral process. Nevertheless, there will be
numerous logistical hitches and glitches on election day,
though not so extensive as to invalidate the credibility of
the process. END COMMENT

© Scoop Media

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