Only an audit of the elections in Perú legitimizes the winner and saves democracy

Elections must be “free, fair, and clean” and when these features are questioned only the “audit of the official count of votes, with verification of each precinct’s ballot reports, statistics, process and chain of custody” will legitimize the winner and will salvage democracy. Peru must ask the Organization of American States (OAS) an urgent electoral audit.
Carlos Sánchez Berzaín.
The second round of presidential elections in Peru, with the very tight and confusing differences in the numbers of votes for the candidates Jorge Castillo and Keiko Fujimori, foreign governments’ meddling, proof of irregularities and electoral fraud, along with the evidence of the absence of impartiality of government officials, have vaulted the country into a serious crisis. Elections must be “free, fair, and clean” and when these features are questioned only the “audit of the official count of votes, with verification of each precinct’s ballot reports, statistics, process and chain of custody” will legitimize the winner and will salvage democracy. Peru must ask the Organization of American States (OAS) an urgent electoral audit.
The elections in Peru, just as in all of the countries of the Americas, are governed by a disposition that is part of the legal system of each state and that is the Interamerican Democratic Charter. This is why, the fundamental rule is for elections to be “periodic, free, fair, based on universal suffrage concepts and be secret as an expression of the people’s sovereignty”
While elections are a fundamental component of democracy, solely and on to themselves they are not democracy. “Periodic, free and fair” elections must be conducted with, and be accompanied to, the “respect for human rights and individual basic freedoms, the due process to ascend into power, and the discharging of duties with compliance to the rule of law, the plural regime of political parties and organizations, and the separation and Independence of the branches of government”.
Elections without democracy are dictatorships and these have become the method most used by the 21st century socialism or Castrochavism to counterfeit the peoples’ will, manipulating results to indefinitely hang-on to power, thus birthing the vote-catching dictatorships of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua”.
In vote-catching dictatorships “people vote but do not elect” because their will is manipulated by the regime. In a democracy, “clean elections” must -at the very least- have two features: 1. “Respect the integrity of the voter’s preferences”, in other words; “voters must be able to vote without any external pressure or fear of retaliation”. 2. “Respect the exactness of the voters’ preferences registry” that is “to check, count and/or tabulate or add all the votes in an impartial and accurate manner” as is mandated by the “Concept for Democratic Elections” in the OAS’ Manual for Electoral Missions.
In Peru’s case, on 16 June, the National Jury of Elections (JNE in Spanish) determined that “definitive results from the second round of presidential elections held on 6 June will only be announced when it has resolved the irregularities in all of the noted registry records and the requests for annulment introduced following the electoral process”. There is a final tally of votes that yields Castillo as the winner with a 0.125% advantage, but Fujimori has asked the annulment of hundreds of Voting Registries due to “electoral fraud at the precinct”.
The OAS’ Observation Mission in Peru has presented a “Preliminary Report” in which “it pleads for all political actors to be given the necessary assurances of a democratic process, that problems be resolved in adherence to the law, and that -once this phase is completed- the popular will be respected and acknowledged” and it “underscores that both candidates coincided in not proclaiming themselves as winners until all disputed ballots have been resolved, and to respect the electoral due process and the Peruvian electoral institutionality, and to accept the electoral results once this election’s jurisdictional phase has been solved”.
Conflict, distrust, and uncertainty grow and the JNE no longer seems to have the legitimacy to resolve the matter with the transparency and trust the Peruvian people need and the circumstances demand it. A ruling, or legal opinion by the JNE settling the current conflict will not have legitimacy and with questionable legality will only be the seed for further confrontation.
The government of Peru has in its hands the solution to legitimize the winner and salvage democracy by soliciting the OAS for an “audit of electoral integrity” an audit of the official count of the 6 June 2021 elections that includes “to reveal the meticulous functioning/workings of the processes involved in vote-counting, the transmission of preliminary results, the official count, and the chain of custody of all electoral materials in order to go from there to the verification of the integrity and trustworthiness of the electoral results”.
Both candidates; Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori, should request, and be most interested in the audit as a token of good faith, transparency, and a guarantee of their legitimacy.
*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators Association, ATA # 234680.

Published in Spanish by Infobae.com Sunday June 20, 2021.

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