Civil Rights Groups in Tunisia Raise Questions Over Referendum Data

More than a week after Tunisians backed a new constitution proposed by President Kais Saied, civil rights groups are demanding the election authority publish the raw vote data to see if the process was valid while some are even asking for a recount.

According to the Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE), some 2.93 million voters, of the 9.2 million registered, took part in the July 25 vote, with 92 percent of those participating voting “Yes”.

The low turnout of 31 percent came amid a boycott campaign from the opposition, which says the new constitution could lead Tunisia back to one-man rule, an allegation Saied denies.

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There was no minimum level of participation set for the referendum, so the constitution, which will change Tunisia from its current hybrid parliamentary democracy to one where the president has sweeping powers, will be adopted.

While civil society observers do not dispute the winning “Yes” vote, nor do they accuse the ISIE of fraud, they have expressed concerns about vote data management. They want polling station data to be published in an easily accessible format and point out serious errors in some governorate results published on the day after the referendum, which were rectified by the ISIE on August 2.

Meanwhile, “No” campaign leaders and the political party Afek Tounes are demanding the whole result be cancelled, claiming the referendum process was unconstitutional and that the “No” campaign was blocked from holding campaign events.

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Anti-corruption organisation I Watch accused ISIE’s staff of “being incompetent and lacking integrity”.

Slim Bouzid, of the independent vote observation association Mourakiboun, said I Watch had asked for a recount, but his organisation had requested “the detailed data in spreadsheet, so that we can verify whether these were, in fact, errors or something else,” said Bouzid, shying away from defining what he was hinting at.

Bouasker also told a news conference on Tuesday that the three legal cases filed against ISIE did not concern the results. “This shows the referendum results are sound,” he said in Tunis.

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