Legislative Elections in Cuba: What happened on March 26th?

Yesterday, March 26th, 470 candidates for 470 seats in the Cuban National Assembly were “elected.”

By El Toque

HAVANA TIMES – Preliminary results from election day in Cuba, on Sunday March 26, 2023, were announced this Monday morning. According to the statement issued by the National Electoral Council (CEN),75.92% of voters summoned to vote went to the ballot box. 

After a long official campaign, the turnout figure was higher than that in the recent municipal elections in November 2022 – the lowest in history, with only 68.56% -; but lower than turnout in the last general elections in 2018, which had a 82.90% turnout.

The times of an overwhelming majority are now a thing of the past and even though political and electoral authorities continue to say, “the results prove the Cuban people’s support for their popular representatives and trust in the Revolution,” the numbers reveal the exact opposite.

According to CEN president Alina Balseiro, out of the total number of ballots handed in, 90.28% were valid (6.22% were left blank and 3.50% were spoilt). Out of the votes cast, 72.10% were for all the candidates and 27.90% were selective votes.

The election results (over 50%) allowed 470 candidates to be approved as members of Congress, who will now constitute the 10th Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, which will end with the nomination of the president of the legislative body, the country and the Government’s appointment. 

Election events

A statement on independent platforms Observadores de Derechos Electorales, Comision Cubana de Defensa Electoral and Ciudadanos Observadores de Procesos Electorales consider these elections to be the “most irregular” in Cuba since 1976.

A news item by the Spanish news agency EFE points out that organizations reported a series of peculiarities “that violate Election Law,” including the late publication of some electoral rolls, schools without registration lists displayed in public and where unregistered people were voting; and other polling places where many registered voters were unable to vote.

Other “anomalies” included coercion to vote in hospitals and workplaces where “previous lists” to go and vote were up, promises of material benefits and food fairs, using children to promote electoral participation and schedule changes in favor of the election.

During the afternoon, the National Electoral Council extended voting hours to 7 PM on Sunday. According to them, the decision was made in response to a steady increase in turnout and “requests received from  outlying municipalities.” It’s the same excuse the electoral body gave during the municipal elections in November 2022.

The decision was “surprising”, as there weren’t adverse weather conditions or any other adverse circumstances to justify the extension of voting hours at polling stations, niether on November 27, 2022 or now.

According to the Election Law in force today, the Electoral Council has the chance to indicate another timetable or apply a time extension in one or different districts or polling stations when “force majeure advises for it.”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times