PICO-UNION : Help Sought for Fair Salvadoran Election

Warning of possible fraud in El Salvador's presidential election, the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) is calling for increased support from the U.S. and Salvadoran governments to ensure increased voter registration. Efforts include opening the door for 1 million Salvadorans living in the United States to take part in the March election.

"We are embarking on a campaign to do more outreach and raise the awareness of Salvadorans living here to underline the historic importance of these elections," said Meredith Brown, director of the center's human rights and education department. The center is conducting an education campaign that will include house meetings and requests for donated items.

"What we are trying to do is recruit everything from bullhorns to faxes to provide (to) nonpartisan groups that are working with the voter registration in El Salvador," said Brown.

CARECEN's call for increased voter registration follows the release of the organization's report that found 2 million Salvadorans registered to vote in next year's election out of a possible electorate of 3 million.

The center is also looking at ways to facilitate voter rights for Salvadorans living in the United States. Currently, there is no mechanism for the 500,000 Salvadorans living in Los Angeles to vote, Brown said.

CARECEN's report was compiled by an eight-person investigative delegation that traveled to El Salvador in August. The report also cited inaccuracies in the electoral registration, including the current registration of ARENA party founder Robert D'Aubisson, who died in 1991, and as many as 2,000 duplicate registrations. The report also recommended extending the Nov. 20 registration deadline.

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