Local electoral authorities under suspicion

Local Electoral Public Organizations (OPLES) reach July 1st in the midst of controversies, squandering, and, in some cases, with a lack of legitimacy
Local electoral authorities under suspicion
Local elections - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
13/06/2018
08:53
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Electoral authorities need a strong institution in order to fully perform their tasks, as well as adequate credibility to legitimize the process. In the same fashion, and according to the relevance of their role, they also need certain restraint regarding funds, so the process of choosing our rulers can be adjusted to the economic reality of the democracy they are defending.

However, electoral authorities at a state level are being heavily questioned by citizens. According to an investigation published today by EL UNIVERSAL, the Local Electoral Public Organizations (OPLES) will reach the election day in the midst of controversies, squandering, and, in some cases, with a lack of legitimacy.

Nevertheless, it's necessary to understand the context in which OPLES have been developing in the last couple of years. These were organizations which underwent a major restructuring in 2015 when the recently-born National Electoral Institute (INE) was appointed as the party responsible for local electoral organisms – which were until that point autonomous.

As this journalistic work proves, local procedures, institutional vices, and administrative routines prevailed in such a manner that old problems haven't yet been resolved. Regarding budget control, OPLES are allocated resources which aren't being adequately supervised an on which there is still some opacity without enough accountability.

The evidence presented shows cases in which local electoral authorities have settled their own wages – a fact which has sparked complaints of public funds abuses. In other cases, budget expenditure was unjustified and without clear regulations. These aren't isolated cases but failures in the legal and institutional system which are eroding credibility in local electoral authorities to the eyes of Mexican citizens.

Another element which should be taken into account is that within the OPLES, there are electoral councilors who have been accused of being too close to political parties. Some are only known to be sympathizers but in other cases, we're talking about former public servants and even party members. That is, despite the electoral reform which took place three years ago, nothing has stopped political parties from having a presence in and influence on key electoral decision-making organizations – which perverts elections.

Considering this panorama and after the current elections are brought to a close, it'll become necessary to rethink the role of OPLES regarding the validity of the elections they supervise, the credibility they offer to voters, and the legitimacy of the decisions on budget expense. At a local level, this is part of the foundations of democracy and where we have to keep a watchful eye to make sure it is duly strengthened.

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