Electoral Processes

Election Monitoring
Transparency and Accountability

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Observación Electoral

Observación Electoral 2023 and Elecciones Visibles: Ensuring election integrity in Guatemala


The Problem
Leading up to Guatemala’s 2023 election, there was a latent risk of unlawful and corrupt actions by public sector actors. There were alarming indications of potential electoral manipulation, such as unequal treatment of some opposition candidates compared to candidates of the ruling party. There were also notable internal weaknesses within the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), including TSE magistrates who lacked any prior experience in elections and electoral law.  

Since 2022, various political and judicial events alerted Guatemalan society that the TSE might make changes to the electoral process model. Likewise, the media reported acts of potential electoral corruption in different branches of the State, such as clientelism and opacity in the management of social programs. All this generated a climate of uncertainty and speculation about the integrity of the election. 

The Approach
In January 2023, the electoral observation initiative was launched through a formal agreement with the TSE and collaborating organizations, recognizing the urgent need to bolster democratic processes in Guatemala. Committed to upholding the tenets of the Electoral and Political Parties Law, the project operated nationwide, with its center in Guatemala City but maintaining a presence across all regions. A diverse, multidisciplinary team, comprising political scientists, lawyers, and communicators, monitored 362 temporary electoral bodies, 30 political parties, and over 1,000 candidates. Daily updates were disseminated via social media channels, while periodic reports dissected key developments and offered actionable recommendations. The Elecciones Visibles platform empowered citizens to report electoral irregularities swiftly, receiving 459 reports and 74 complaints in 2023. Leveraging technology, including web portals and live broadcasts, ensured real-time dissemination of critical information. Through workshops, media campaigns, and online resources, citizen engagement was galvanized, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability. 

The Impact

  • Over 8,000 national and international electoral observers engaged in the 2023 general elections, the highest number in Guatemala's history. 

  • The Elecciones Visibles platform facilitated citizen complaints, receiving 549 reports and 74 complaints of potential electoral violations. 

  • Investigations initiated through the platform led to administrative sanctions within the TSE, and cases of potential electoral crimes were forwarded to the Electoral Crimes Prosecutor's Office for criminal prosecution. 

  • Electoral observation exposed flaws in the procurement of biometric voting software, deemed costly and lacking transparency, prompting corrective actions by the TSE. 

The Future
Moving forward Guatemala Visible aims to elevate its impact by advocating for electoral legislation reforms via the Commission for Electoral Updating and Modernization, maintaining vigilant oversight over the TSE. Additionally, it plans to rigorously monitor the selection processes for the Director of the Public Criminal Defense Institute, all 13 Supreme Court Justices, and over 220 Magistrates of the Court of Appeals.