In the following interview, Andrés Calderón, director of the UP Legal Clinic on Freedom of Information and Transparency, presents some conclusions of the report and brings forward some bad news: the four information tools available to the Electoral System —Plataforma Electoral (Electoral Platform), Ventanilla Única de Antecedentes para Uso Electoral (VU) (Single Background Information Window for Electoral Use), Infogob and Candidatos 2020 (Candidates 2020)— are insufficient to fulfill the assigned informative role.
ALUMNI UP (AUP): the "Sombras Electorales" study points out that the "Plataforma Electoral" serves, primarily, as a repository of procedural actions and notifications in the files administered by the JNE within the framework of an electoral process. Is this system useful?
ANDRÉS CALDERÓN (AC): Although citizens can find information regarding a candidate on the "Plataforma Electoral", it is not easily accessible. The most information available about a candidate is the “Declaración Jurada de Hoja de Vida” (DJHV) (Résumé Affidavit), which is submitted by the applicant himself. There is no verified or updated information in this document. And in the event that a voter wishes to know if there is any inaccuracy in the information provided, they must first know if any verification and sanction procedure has been initiated and, simultaneously, search for the information within each of the actions in said file. This is a rather complex, not systematized and not very intuitive task for the citizen.
AUP: The "Jurado Nacional de Elecciones" (National Jury of Elections) refers on its web page that the "Ventanilla Única de Antecedentes para Uso Electoral" (VU) virtual platform provides information to political organizations in order for them to make a suitable selection of the citizens they will present as candidates in the elections. Is this goal being achieved?
AC: The VU portal has problems to carry out its objective since it does not comply with providing all the information it should according to the legal framework. Furthermore, although the VU provides accurate information because it extracts data from public entities, it does not function as a platform for citizen access to information since only political party representatives have access to it. This means that the platform with the most complete and accurate information about a candidate -among all the other platforms reviewed- is not accessible to the main actor of an electoral process: the voter.
AUP: What is the situation of the "Infogob" portal?
AC: It is not a suitable tool for the citizen to be informed about the candidates of a current electoral process since the information it provides is about candidates of old and concluded electoral processes. Its information is useful, but for other things; for example, to carry out demographic and/or statistical studies regarding the country's electoral activity.
AUP: And "Candidatos 2020" allows voters to get to know better those seeking election?
AC: This platform represented a timely tool for the electoral process in which it was implemented, providing useful information not easily available by other means, such as information on a candidate's criminal proceedings, sanctions imposed by SERVIR and the financial rating according to the SBS risk assessment center. However, regarding the rest of the information that a candidate provides in their résumé, the information available in "Candidatos 2020" had the same deficiencies of the "Plataforma Electoral" since the information declared by the candidates in their DJHV was not verified nor updated to the date of the citizen's search.
AUP: Finally, what reflection should the results of this report provoke in legislators and electoral authorities?
AC: In the conclusions of the "Sombras Electorales" study, we say that the analysis of the four information platforms of our electoral system should lead legislators and electoral authorities to reflect and motivate them to promote the implementation of a systematized, didactic, contrasted, filtered and updated platform for citizens, which allows them to be easily informed about the candidates in a given electoral process. And not to regret later, as is often the case, having chosen this or that candidate.
The 'SOMBRAS ELECTORALES. Revisión y análisis de los portales de información sobre candidatos a puestos de elección popular' (Electoral Shadows. Review and analysis of information portals) report was prepared by Universidad del Pacífico Legal Clinic on Freedom of Information and Transparency members/students, Andrea Jiménez, Ana Lucía Taboada, Carlos Almandoz and César Gutiérrez, with the collaboration of Aniuska Segura and under the supervision and editing of Director Andrés