Photo: Martirena

The transparency and accuracy of Cuba’s electoral registry – with its public, permanent, ex officio nature - guaranteed by the state and verified by the population, constitutes a strength of the Revolution, especially important to the referendum on constitutional reform set for February 24. This was confirmed for Granma International by Colonel Mario Méndez Mayedo, head the Identification, Immigration, and Foreign Nationals Directorate, who reported that, beginning January 16, voter rolls will be displayed in visible locations close to polling stations.

As of this date, voters can verify their personal data, and if need be, proceed to correct, modify, or update information in processing centers opened in facilities known to Cubans as ID card offices. Also established is the telephone number 188-08, to respond to questions and complaints, and provide timely explanations.

“Processing offices will be reinforced these next few days to assure the electoral process and, alongside the daily services we provide, anyone can request that a doubt be clarified or simply check personal data,” the Ministry of the Interior officer stated, referring to the Electoral Registry.

The function of the registry is related to the type of vote to be undertaken, as a right and a duty of citizens, based on the constitutional definition, which is expressed in laws and decrees establishing procedures governing the holding of a vote, organized by the country’s highest electoral body.The registry’s public nature means citizens have the right to verify their personal data, and this year the list’s design was modified to facilitate review by the population, and in case of error, make corrections with relevant authorities.The Cuban state continually updates information in registries (regardless of the convocation or not of an electoral process) based on internal and external mobility that occurs in the country, according to Méndez Mayedo, something that is not done in many countries, where individuals must register and voter turnout percentages are calculated on the basis of registered voters, not the eligible population.He recalled eligibility requirements, defined by current law (Electoral Law No. 72/1992) summarized as: residents in national territory for more than two years, over 16 years of age, and with full legal capacity – that is, not sanctioned by a court with the loss of political rights.In Cuba, residents are registered ex officio (without prior consultation with the person) upon reaching 16 years of age, and are assigned a constituency where they exercise their right to vote near their residence, even if this is not their permanent address. On this aspect, Méndez Mayedo stressed individual responsibility regarding the legality of personal data and the definition of where they will vote.To accomplish this, the Automated Electoral System was established to ensure the permanent updating of voter information and accurate statistics for authorities at all levels, and their availability to other automated systems created for elections in the country.This data takes into account migratory movement, deaths, the prison population, court rulings, civil registries, and geographical demarcations used by Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), given that 14% of the population with the right to vote does not do so at the location of their permanent residence.The collection of information takes into account temporary residents in schools, military units, workers on missions abroad or in national territory, and even those traveling on Election Day. Special and exceptional polling stations are enabled (only for general elections or referendums) for these voters in airports, bus and train terminals, hospitals, and others locations.In coming weeks, authorities in charge of the voter registries will print and distribute them; reconcile information collected on the ground with that recorded; adopt appropriate measures; establish the closing date for modifications; and activate a communications system to clarify issues that emerge as the election is held. In this effort, door-to-door work in every constituency is key.Colonel Méndez Mayedo concluded by calling for responsible behavior on the part of the population to support the accuracy of lists, taking into account that the way in which the registry is organized has decisive consequences for citizens. It allows for the effective exercise of the right to vote, that is, makes it possible for those who, in the light of constitutional and legal norms, have political rights, to effectively exercise them.“We have a voter registry that is a strength of the Revolution, something to be proud of," he said, referring to research carried out by the Ministry of the Interior on the experiences of 18 other countries on the continent. He concluded by saying, "The philosophy of our society is transparency, honesty, and rigor. All this is contained within our registries.”