Report of the Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor
On the first round of the Timor-Leste 2007 Presidential
18 April 2007
In Timor-Leste: Jill Sternberg SOMET Office HAK
Association building Avenida Gov. Serpa Rosa, Farol,
Dili, Timor-Leste Tel. +670-331-3324 or +670-734-2535
International: John M. Miller East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) PO Box 21873,
Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA Tel. +1-718-596-7668 email:
The 2007 Presidential election is the first
national election conducted by the independent state of
Timor-Leste. Twelve observers from the Solidarity Observer
Mission for East Timor (SOMET) visited 52 polling stations
in the districts of Dili, Liquica and Ermera during the
first round of voting on 9 April. SOMET finds the elections
to be free and fair. We believe the results reflect the
wishes of the citizens of the country.
While the majority of both polling staff and
voters were familiar with voting procedures, we observed a
number of minor irregularities. Infractions of the measures
to prevent double voting were the most prevalent and serious
Candidate and party agents and `party
observers' were a dominant feature of many polling stations.
We observed many more agents than were legally allowed, and
they often engaged in inappropriate actions and/or concealed
Polling station staff did a laudable job in
making the counting process transparent. However, we noted
several violations of regulations, such as sensitive
materials left unguarded and improper or inefficient
counting of ballots. In many cases, we also witnessed
confusion about the criteria for declaring ballots invalid.
We also observed several infractions of the
previously announced procedure for the deployment of police
and international military forces near polling stations.
On the basis of our observations, the SOMET
mission recommends improvements in eight areas.
1. Future elections should be administered
by an independent agency, outside the jurisdiction of any
2. We recommend a clear and consistent
regulatory framework for elections. Any amendments to laws,
regulations, codes of conduct or training materials and
instructions should be made in good time, be internally
consistent and be communicated to all involved in the
3. We recommend that provisions be made for
absentee voting for hospital patients, prisoners, the home
bound and Timor-Leste citizens abroad.
4. We recommend that the rights and
privileges of candidate and party agents be legally
regulated; that their numbers be limited to one per
candidate per polling station at any one time; that polling
center staff be empowered to enforce regulations relating to
agents; and that the anomalous positions of `party observer'
and `livre access' be abolished.
5. We recommend that polling stations have
more and adequately paid polling staff. Further instructions
and training should focus on key tasks, such as checking
voters' fingers for ink, providing guidance to voters and
safeguarding sensitive materials.
6. We recommend that all counting of ballots
be done according to the counting regulations. Ballots
should be accepted as valid if the intention of the voter is
7. We recommend that police and military
forces abide by transparent regulations governing their
8. We recommend that all commentators
accurately represent the election process, especially after
Finally, we remind all officials involved in
administering elections that international and national
observers should have free access to all polling stations.
Solidarity Observer Mission for East
The Solidarity Observer Mission for East
Timor (SOMET), a non-partisan observer mission for the 2007
elections, observed the 9 April 2007 Presidential elections
in three districts of Timor-Leste. This report details our
observations from this first round of the elections and
makes recommendations for future improvements of electoral
practice. SOMET will continue to observe and report on the
second round of the Presidential elections on 9 May and on
the Parliamentary elections to be held on 30 June 2007.
On polling day SOMET dispatched twelve
accredited, nonpartisan observers to 52 polling stations in
Dili, Liquiça and Ermera districts to observe the voting and
tabulation process. Our observers, of eight different
nationalities, were Ernest Chamberlain, Christian Donn,
Craig Hughes, Jaana Karhilo, Ruby Rose Lora, Catharina
Maria, Joerg Meier, Veronica Pais, Charles Scheiner,
Susan Severin, Santina Soares and Jill Sternberg.
SOMET was created by the international
solidarity movement for Timor-Leste in response to requests
from several civil society organizations in Timor-Leste to
work in partnership with nonpartisan Timorese and other
international observers to support an election process which
is transparent, free and fair. All SOMET observers follow a
code of conduct that stresses our non-partisanship and
neutrality. We act in an independent manner, not supporting
any parties or candidates. Nonpartisanship does not,
however, mean indifference or passivity towards injustice or
towards violations of any individual's basic human rights.
SOMET is a grassroots project of the
U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN),
Stichting Vrij Oost Timor (VOT) of the Netherlands,
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the Asia
Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) based in the
Philippines, and World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA).
In Timor-Leste, SOMET cooperates with Asosiasaun HAK,
Timor-Leste NGO Forum, La'o Hamutuk, FOKUPERS and Bibi Bulak.
Election history and context
After more than four centuries of autocratic
rule from afar, the people of Timor-Leste have only been
able to participate in democratic elections for less than
eight years. During their first three national votes _ for
independence, the Constituent Assembly, and President, the
results reflected the will of the voters. Despite an
Indonesian-led terror campaign, determined Timorese voters
went to the polls in 1999 to reject autonomy as an
Indonesian province. Despite inexperience with free
elections and parliamentary procedures, Timorese calmly and
deliberately chose their Constituent Assembly (Parliament)
in 2001 and President in 2002. These three national
elections were conducted by the United Nations, in
consultation with Timorese leaders.
The 2007 Presidential election is the first
national election conducted according to Timor-Leste's own
laws. Once again, Timorese voters have shown their
understanding of and commitment to peaceful democratic
processes, notwithstanding the crisis which began last year
and the many dire warnings and threats of violence. Once
again, Timor-Leste's electorate has refused to be
intimidated from exercising their franchise. Although there
were some relatively minor irregularities in many aspects of
Monday's voting, by and large the process went smoothly, and
we believe that the final results will reflect the wishes of
the citizens of this country.
As in many parts of the world, politics here
sometimes diverges from substantive discussions of policies
and programs into charges and counter-charges about personal
conduct of candidates or unfair campaign practices. We are
hopeful that, as Timor-Leste's politicians gain more
experience with democratic elections, future campaigns will
include more proposals for and critiques of future and past
government programs. As this country moves toward the
future, it is important for the voters to decide in what
direction it should go, not only who will lead it there.
We are both encouraged and concerned by the wide
variations in poll results among different areas of the
country. Regional and ethnic differences are clearly shown
in the election results. With four candidates each winning
at least three districts, the first choice of voters in
approximately half the districts will not be in the second
round. We urge all candidates, winners and losers alike, to
continue their campaign practices of appealing to the entire
population, and not try to exploit local differences to
further polarize this diverse, small nation.
However, vote patterns also indicate that
the great majority of voters clearly understood what they
were choosing and felt free to express their opinion through
the ballot. The relatively small numbers of invalid ballots
demonstrate that few voters cast ballots in error.
Democratic practices are already well-established in
In this first national election conducted by
Timor-Leste authorities, many regulations and procedures had
to be created. In spite of some confusion in the rules and
gaps in enforcement, we congratulate all involved in
designing and conducting the process. However, since this is
the first of three elections in 2007, and the first of
hundreds in a long future for democracy in Timor-Leste, we
are suggesting a number of changes and additions which could
make future elections proceed smoothly, with their results
more readily accepted by all participants. In particular, we
encourage the appropriate authorities to be pro-active and
efficient, and avoid last-minute amendments and impromptu
extra-legal procedures which led to controversy and
confusion about procedures for this election.
The next round of the Presidential election
is three weeks away, with the Parliamentary elections
following less than two months after that. We encourage
authorities, voters and campaigners alike to engage quickly
and seriously in the upcoming elections, both to repair
identified deficiencies and to continue to involve the
citizens in this exercise of democracy. Many of these are
easy to remedy, including last-minute changes regarding
ballot symbols, party agents, and other items, as well as
unclear procedures or inadequate training for identifying
null ballots, counting processes, punching registration
cards and checking ink on fingers. They should be dealt with
quickly and unambiguously to maintain the momentum toward
free and fair elections for next month's runoff.
Electoral regulatory framework
The mechanisms for the presidential
elections consisted of laws, regulations, codes of conduct,
training materials, instructions for staff and procedural
guidelines, many of which had omissions and contradictions,
and were created months or even weeks before the elections.
These were implemented by the Technical Secretariat for
Election Administration (STAE) and supervised by the
National Electoral Commission (CNE), which was established
only three months prior to Election Day. In this context, we
are impressed by how well the election process went.
Although our overall observations are positive, some
weaknesses caused confusion and difficulty before, on, and
after 9 April, or made the process less free and fair.
STAE is a Government agency, within the
Ministry for State Administration. As a result, it is
subject to political pressures from office-holders, making
it difficult to conduct an impartial election without undue
influence from parties currently in power. This manifested
itself in several areas, most obviously in the extra
credentials given to Government officials and the majority
1. The regulatory framework was unstable
until just before Election Day.
The regulatory framework for Timor-Leste's
first Presidential election had to be created from scratch.
This challenging task was made more difficult by the
combined effects of last-minute guidelines, legislative
inexperience, unclear procedures and partisan influence. The
Law on the Election of the President of the Republic
was finalized only thirteen days before the election. The
Regulation on the Polling and Result Tabulation Procedures
for the Election of the President of the Republic was
finalized shortly before the election. As the fifth
pre-election report by the UN Electoral Certification Team
stated, delays in finalizing legislation "compromised, to a
greater or lesser extent, every activity the planning and
execution of which depends on knowledge of the legal
framework for the elections."
2. Final ballot format came late.
The decision to display symbols on ballots
was made only days before the election. Article 38 of the
December 2006 Law on the Election of the President of the
Republic specified that each ballot would have the names
and color photographs of candidates. However, the amended
Law passed on 26 March 2007 added symbols. Two days later,
CNE announced that it had approved each candidate's ballot
symbol. Although STAE and other authorities managed to print
and distribute the ballots in time, the lateness of this
change made their task, as well as voter education,
3. Timorese citizens who were abroad on
Election Day could not vote.
Article 47.1 of the Constitution of RDTL
states that all citizens 17 years old and older are entitled
4. Prisoners were not allowed to vote.
Although Article 5 of the Law on the
Election of the President of the Republic
unconstitutionally barred sentenced individuals from voting,
there were no provisions to enable incarcerated individuals
pending trial or sentencing to vote. Neither the law for a
specific election nor the absence of special voting
procedures should violate the Constitution.
5. Disabled voters were insufficiently
Although Article 7 of the Regulation the
Polling and Result Tabulation Procedures for the Election of
the President of the Republic stated that polling
stations were not allowed in hospitals, no alternative
provisions were made for hospital patients to vote. Staff at
the Dili National Hospital told SOMET that patients informed
them that they would like to vote, but could not. People
with physical disabilities who could not travel to polling
stations also had no way to vote.
6. Government officials were issued "Livre
Access" passes without conditions or legal
STAE granted approximately 100 "Livre
Access" (free access) passes to Timor-Leste government
officials. This does nothing to enhance the electoral
process and brings a risk of undue influence or intimidation
The voting we observed took place in a
peaceful manner. We did not witness any incidents of
violence or obvious, overt intimidation. The clear majority
of voters we interviewed felt comfortable about voting, and
none reported having been threatened with violence or
offered gifts to induce them to vote for a particular
candidate. However, several voters reported having witnessed
threats or violence against others during the campaign, but
they were not deterred from casting their ballots.
A few days before the election, we learned
that around 100 election workers were threatening to strike,
asking for more than the allotted $10/day. Voting officials
were able to convince them to work, and polling centers we
observed had at least the minimum required three staffers,
and most had all five. They were stretched at times to
handle the incessant stream of voters during peak hours, the
zealous candidate and party agents, and the numerous,
sometimes boisterous, spectators, but they worked hard and
seriously throughout the long day.
Most of the polling stations we observed
opened on time and according to proper procedure. Staff paid
positive attention to the special needs of the pregnant,
disabled, elderly, sick or those with children, and allowed
them to vote ahead of others in the queue. At one polling
station, we observed a visiting STAE official reminding
polling staff of their duties towards the vulnerable, but at
most polling centers this was already taken care of.
Although concerns about insufficient
supplies of ballot papers had been reported prior to polling
day, our teams did not observe problems in this regard. One
UNV informed us of back-up measures in place in case of
shortages, and at one polling station we witnessed the
arrival of a CNE official, accompanied by UNPOL, delivering
more ballot papers.
As in previous elections, the citizens of
Timor-Leste overwhelmingly cast their ballots before noon.
Despite long queues, particularly in Dili, the voters were
patient and, for the most part, familiar with the process.
The polling centers we visited in the afternoon no longer
had large numbers of voters but staff reported a high
turnout for the day.
Role of UNVs
UNDP and other UN bodies have written much
about the hundreds of United Nations Volunteers and
international electoral experts who came to Timor-Leste to
assist STAE, CNE and others in training and preparations for
this election. Prior to the election, informed sources told
SOMET that some UN Volunteers were not respectful of their
Timorese counterparts, or were not experienced or
knowledgeable about election mechanisms in Timor-Leste. We
do not know how widespread these problems were, but did not
witness them on Election Day. In fact, we only saw two UNVs
in the more than 50 polling stations we visited.
Our Observations on Election Day
Party agents were the dominant feature of
many polling stations SOMET visited. We observed many more
agents than were legally allowed, and they often engaged in
inappropriate actions and/or concealed their identities. In
this report, we use "party agents" to include candidate
agents, party agents, and party observers ("fiscais
electoral", sometimes translated as "delegate" in election
law and regulations, and "observador partido") except where
1. The position of Party Observer was
without legal basis.
STAE distributed many anonymous credentials
for `Party Observer' days prior to the election, although
there was no provision for this in the regulations and no
guidelines or code of conduct defining their rights and
responsibilities. This added to the large number of party
agents in the polling stations. The role of party agent _
safeguarding the rights of their candidate _ is incompatible
with being a nonpartisan observer, as stated in the Code
of Conduct for Delegates of Candidacies and Delegates of
Political Parties or Party Coalitions.
2. Party agents were present in high
Party agents had a heavy presence in most
polling stations and SOMET observers witnessed many more
party agents than legally allowed. Article 34 of the Law
on the Election of the President to the Republic
established the right of party agents to monitor the polling
and counting processes. The Code of Conduct for Delegates
of Candidacies and Delegates of Political Parties or Party
Coalitions specifies at most one agent per candidate per
polling station at one time. STAE accredited 12,573 agents
from thirteen different factions, supporting the eight
presidential candidates. Fretilin had 5,525 accredited
agents (although there were only 705 polling stations),
while the Democratic Party had 2,356 and others had fewer.
At one polling station in Comoro, Dili, we observed 13
agents from Fretilin at the same time. In Balide, Dili we
observed 11 agents from PSD and 10 from ASDT, and several
other stations had more than 30 party agents. Polling staff
were often unable to control the number of party agents
because of inconsistencies in training materials, undefined
enforcement mechanisms, and reluctance to confront numerous,
3. Party agents were not easily
STAE-issued identification credentials for
party agents did not contain their photographs. STAE did not
allocate sufficient staff to prepare photo credentials for
the unexpectedly large number of party agents. STAE printed
a number for each faction on the credentials, but did not
explain this system. As a result, observers could not
quickly and definitively identify agents' affiliations. Some
party agents refused to tell observers which party or
candidate they represented; some concealed their
credentials; and some told us they were afraid of other
parties' agents knowing who they were working for.
4. Party agents were proactive about engaging voters.
Agents directed voters through the voting
process, often speaking with voters who appeared to need
guidance. They often positioned themselves close to the
5. Government officials present in
We encountered at least one high-level
government official acting as party observer.
6. Inappropriate observer behavior.
We observed one polling center where
national NGO observers acted in a manner that appeared to
intimidate voters. The observers stood in a line down the
middle of the polling station, and an observer sat next to
the Identification Officer as he conducted voter intake.
The majority of both polling staff and
voters were familiar with voting procedures. Overall, the
polling staff did their jobs competently and with
confidence, although their training and performance could be
improved in certain areas. SOMET was heartened to note that
many women were included and some stations had 50-50 gender
balance. On the whole, staff were able to ensure the right
of individual voting, the secrecy of the ballot, and the
overall integrity of the process. However, we observed a
number of minor irregularities during voting and a few
problems with potentially serious consequences. Infractions
of the measures to prevent double voting were the most
prevalent and serious technical violations of the voting
process that SOMET observed.
1. Queue control.
The polling station queue controllers were
able to ensure an orderly wait and entry for voters in most
places, but we did witness disorderly scenes at some of the
biggest polling stations during the morning hours. Candidate
agents sometimes stepped up to assist in organizing the
lines; in one instance the police (PNTL) participated in
crowd control. Despite staff efforts, we observed as many as
twelve voters inside a polling station at one time. The
greatest number of voter complaints brought to our attention
was about the long, hot wait of up to 2½ hours in the sun.
In several instances we observed gender segregation in the
queues, and in one location women were asked to leave their
handbags outside the polling station while they voted. At
another location male voters were patted and checked for
2. Registration procedures.
On the whole, polling staff were proficient
at keeping a record of incoming voters and checking for
appropriate voter identification documents. We did witness
two instances of procedural problems which might have
compromised the accuracy of the voter record (Acta). In one
polling station two staff members were recording incoming
voters, which resulted in some voters receiving their ballot
papers without being recorded or noticed by either worker.
In two other cases mistakes had been made in the
record-keeping, and polling station staff were busy
re-transcribing the list during our visit.
3. Perforation of identification
Some poll workers were confused by rule
changes regarding punching of the newer, plastic voter
registration cards. We observed one instance where holes
were punched into registration documents outdoors instead of
in the polling station, and another in which passports were
perforated. At one polling station several voters went
through the voting process without having their cards
punched at all, and at another the presiding officer told us
they were punching only old registration cards.
4. Checking fingers for ink.
According to the regulations, the index
finger of each voter was to be marked with indelible ink
after the ballot was cast and each incoming voter in turn
was to be checked for pre-existing ink before being given a
ballot. All of our observers in Dili and Liquica saw
locations where the hands of voters were not being
systematically checked for ink before they voted, which
happened in the vast majority of polling stations where we
observed voting. While this could have had serious
consequences, we did not observe instances of double voting.
5. Marking fingers with ink.
We also observed isolated instances of
people exiting polling stations without having their fingers
inked. This problem was not particularly widespread but did
take place in four of the polling stations we observed in
Dili. We also observed one case of youth attempting to wash
the ink off their hands outside a polling station.
6. Guidance to voters.
A troubling observation was the occasional
passivity of polling staff in providing guidance to
individual voters. The latter were sometimes confused about
how to mark the ballot paper, where to mark the ballot
paper, where to deposit the completed ballot and where to
exit the polling station, indicating a need for further
voter education. We observed many cases where the party
agents were happy to step into the breach and provide
instructions that should have come from the polling staff.
On the other hand, several polling staff we interviewed
reported having received no instructions on the precise role
and responsibilities of the party agents during the voting
7. Checking polling booths.
We encountered a few cases where the polling
staff did not routinely check polling booths to make sure
they were free of extraneous items. In one instance we
observed a piece of paper with a candidate's name on it in a
booth at the end of voting. Nobody knew who had put it there
or how long it had been there. In two other cases, ballot
papers were found on the floor underneath the polling booth,
and staff were unsure about whether to put them in the
ballot box for further processing.
8. Wearing visible credentials.
Polling staff were willing to identify
themselves and their roles when asked by the observers, but
they sometimes wore their credentials in shirt pockets where
they were not visible. We also observed staff who had taken
off their distinctive staff shirts by the time the counting
began, making it difficult to tell who had what role in the
polling station. Other non-voters present in polling
stations did wear credentials, with only one observed
exception of a high-ranking official involved in the
elections who said he had forgotten his at home. We also
observed party agents whose credentials were not visible.
9. Voter access to polling stations.
The vast majority of polling stations we
visited were set up to allow easy access to voters. However,
as the voting slowed down, staff started taking liberties,
such as blocking a polling station entrance in order to take
a lunch break or sleeping on a table. Luckily these were
isolated instances at polling centers with multiple polling
stations, so voters had the opportunity to cast their
ballots during all voting hours.
10. Observer access to polling stations.
In only one polling station were we not
allowed to observe the polling booths which were in a
separate room where only the voters were given access.
Counting ballots is one of the most
sensitive and complex parts of the electoral process, which
must be done with as few flaws and ambiguities as possible
to ensure the integrity of the election and public
confidence in the results. Although the polling center staff
we observed did a conscientious and impartial job during
counting, often working late into the night in difficult
conditions, we observed a number of violations of
regulations, questionable practices, and inconsistent
procedures. SOMET believes that both the regulations and the
training should be more thorough and specific to avoid
potential problems in the future.
1. Counting outdoors.
In some cases, ballots were moved outside
the polling station (outdoors) in order to count in front of
anyone who wished to witness the counting. While this effort
at transparency is laudable (and consistent with practices
during the Timor-Leste local elections during the last few
years), it is not in the regulations and may unnecessarily
endanger the integrity of the process.
2. Guarding sensitive materials.
In two cases, a full ballot box was left
unattended between the close of voting and the beginning of
In many polling centers we observed, large numbers of
spectators gathered around the counting process, either
inside or outside the room. Although poll workers often
managed this appropriately, without clear regulations
practices varied from one center to another. When a noisy
group gathered at the windows, the situation became
increasingly disorderly. In one case, the police had to be
called to break up a drunk and boisterous crowd inside a
4. Counting consecutively.
In some polling centers with multiple
stations, the stations were counted one after another. While
this allowed party agents, observers and spectators to watch
more than one station, it often caused counting to go late
into the night, with the third room being started about five
hours after the close of voting, in violation of
regulations. It also resulted in an even larger number of
observers and party agents attending the counting, which may
have hindered its efficiency.
Counting in the dark.
When counting went past 6:30 pm, darkness
often made it impossible for observers and party agents to
verify the poll workers' interpretation of each ballot, and
supplied lanterns were inadequate. In some cases, party
agents insisted on standing right behind the counters, as
this was the only place they could see the ballot, and in
others, improvised or borrowed lighting helped illuminate
the room. Faster counting, earlier closing, and better
lighting would all help alleviate this situation.
6. Counting out of the ballot box.
In some polling stations, ballots were
unfolded and counted one at a time directly out of the
ballot box, rather than all being unfolded face-down prior
to examining each one. Although poll workers may have
believed that this saved time, in fact it did not and it
compromised the process by providing information about the
preferences of voters who voted later or earlier in the day.
7. Confusion about null ballots.
In many cases, there was confusion or
disagreement as to whether a ballot should be labeled
invalid ("nulu"). We also observed some ballots where the
voter had made multiple holes by punching a folded ballot;
this likely indicates that the poll worker who handed the
blank ballot to the voter folded it incorrectly. Some torn
ballots were rejected as null even when the paper was torn
by polling staff during separation from the ballot pad or
while being unfolded prior to counting. Confusion over null
ballots prolonged the national-level certification by CNE,
emphasizing the need for clear standards and effective
training in this area.
to responsible behavior by citizens and partisans alike,
Election Day was largely free of violence. In most cases,
security forces behaved appropriately, although there were a
few cases where PNTL (Timorese police, currently under UN
command) and UNPOL (United Nations police) came closer than
25 meters from a polling station while voting was in
process, and one where they brought a weapon inside a
We have been informed that UNPOL/PNTL were
directed to move closer when the counting started, a
last-minute order because UNPOL had not anticipated that the
public would be interested in the counting process. However,
the 25-meter rule in the election law does not lapse when
In two polling centers in areas were
conflict was anticipated, we observed soldiers from the
Australian Defence Force-led International Security Forces (ISF),
in full uniform and with weapons, patrolling immediately
outside the voting stations (much closer than 25 meters,
clearly visible through the windows) or intermingling with
voters waiting on line. Although the soldiers were
courteous, they told us they had been requested to do
routine patrols of these stations, although they would not
say whether it was Australia, UNMIT or RDTL who had made the
request, even after radioing for clarification. According to
UNMIT briefings, ISF's assignment was to be available for
backup in an emergency situation beyond the capability of
UNPOL/PNTL to handle; no such situation existed. SOMET's
repeated requests for clarification of ISF orders for that
day have not been answered.
Reporting election results
During the days after the election,
unofficial and partial results circulated widely without
context or explanation, often accompanied by exaggerations
of relatively minor irregularities or correctable data entry
errors. Because voting patterns varied widely from district
to district, this led to misinterpretation when the results
included or excluded certain areas. In the rush to report
results, both Timorese and international media failed to
explain that incomplete figures were not accurate predictors
of the final outcome, leading to allegations or fears of
manipulations when the totals changed as results from more
districts were included.
On the Regulatory Framework for Elections
1. Future elections should be administered
by an independent agency which is not under the jurisdiction
of any Government ministry.
2. All amendments to the laws and
regulations pertaining to elections, including the ballot
content, should be made well in advance of the election
period. For elections after 2007, this should perhaps happen
before the date of the election is announced.
3. The authorities making such amendments
should ensure that the election laws, regulations, codes of
conduct and training materials are consistent.
4. Such amendments should be communicated
clearly to all officials and polling staff involved in
running the elections.
5. Ad hoc extra-legal procedures regulating
election related issues should be avoided.
On Absentee Voting
1. The relevant authorities should make
legal provisions and practical arrangements so that Timorese
citizens who are abroad on Election Day can vote.
2. The relevant authorities should set up a
mechanism to enable voting for people who are disabled, home
bound, hospitalized or otherwise cannot travel to polling
3. The authorities should make provisions so
that prisoners, who are constitutionally entitled to vote
but prevented from going to polling centers because the
State has incarcerated them, can vote.
On the Role of Candidate and Party Agents
1. Agents should only be accredited
according to consistent, transparent rules based on legal
regulations, applied to all and in force well before
2. No "Livre access" (free access) passes
should be issued to government officials.
3. The "Party Observer" position should not
exist; party agents can represent party interests.
4. High-level government title-holders
should not be given accreditation as candidate/party agents.
5. Appropriate training materials should be
provided to candidate/party agents in advance of elections.
6. There should be a clear procedure whereby
each accredited candidate/party agent receives credentials,
signs for the receipt of credentials and agrees to the
appropriate code of conduct.
7. Candidate/party agent credentials should
include their photograph, name and indication of
candidate/party affiliation, and they should wear it visibly
at all times in the polling station. Administrative staff
must be sufficient to issue credentials efficiently.
8. Legal regulations (in addition to a Code
of Conduct) should define the rights and privileges of
candidate/party agents, including their non-intervention
unless they observe unfair or incorrect practices in the
polling station. They should not communicate with voters
inside the polling station.
9. There should be clear legal regulations
limiting candidates/parties to one agent in a polling
station at any one time, as well as an enforcement mechanism
for such rules.
10. Polling station staff should understand
their right to enforce the appropriate role of
candidate/party agents, and be empowered to expel agents who
interfere with the voting process.
11. Polling stations should maintain a
register of candidate/party agents who enter the polling
station. This task needs to be integrated into the
responsibilities and training of polling center staff.
On Polling Center Staff
1. More polling staff should be assigned to
each polling station.
2. Because of the long hours and strong
commitment required of polling staff, they should receive
increased compensation. Brigadas, who have to accompany the
ballots to the district center, should be paid for an
3. All polling staff should receive clearer
instructions and further training in:
o Keeping a uniform record of incoming
o Observing a uniform practice in
perforating identification documents
o Checking incoming voters' fingers for
o Providing guidance to voters on the
o Checking polling booths regularly
o The role and responsibilities of
o Safeguarding sensitive materials
o Counting ballots according to
4. If the practice of punching holes into
voter identification documents is a necessary additional
safeguard against double voting, the process should be
5. Polling staff should ensure that all
accredited individuals within polling stations wear their
badges visibly at all times.
6. All polling staff should be provided with
adequate backup and supervision.
On the Counting Process
1. All counting of ballots should be
conducted according to the counting regulations.
2. Each polling station in a polling center
should proceed with its counting simultaneously.
3. Counting done by polling stations should
take place inside the polling station.
4. Polling stations should be provided with
5. Ballots should be accepted as valid if
the intention of the voter is clear, even if they contain
extraneous marks or tears.
On the Proximity of Security Forces
1. The police (UNPOL/PNTL) should follow the
regulation on staying 25 meters away from polling stations
during polling and counting unless requested otherwise by
the brigada. If police are expected to be deployed closer
during counting, the regulation should be amended.
2. The International Security Forces and
other military forces should stay out of sight of polling
stations except when called to back up police in an
On Reporting Unofficial Results
1. CNE spokespeople, journalists, candidates
and others should explain the process and context of partial
election results or observed irregularities during
tabulation, rather than hastily feeding unjustified
speculation and uncertainty about the integrity of the
On the Role of Observers
1. International and national observers
should have free access to all polling stations.
monthly pledge via credit card
subscribe to ETAN's news listserv on East
Timor (it's free)