839.00/2747: Telegram

The Minister in the Dominican Republic (Russell) to the Secretary of State

54. Your telegram number 42, October 6, 5 p.m. In regard to electoral boards Government has answered as follows:

1.
Yes. The municipal boards have been really inefficient in the small towns for lack of capable personnel and they have been unable to carry out the mechanism of the electoral law which is very complicated and difficult for them.
2.
The Central Electoral Board has been working in a manner worthy of praise endeavoring to render more efficient the work of the inferior boards and issuing rules to control the procedure. However, the result has not been satisfactory as the Central Board demands compliance with the letter of the law which makes the work of the inferior boards more difficult as the law is new and has absolutely revolutionized all electoral processes hitherto existing in the Dominican Republic. In some cases the Central Board has sent some of its own members to inspect the work of the boards and in other cases has confided this inspection to the intermediate boards.
3.
The electoral law gives no authority to the Central Board to name inspectors. For this reason when it has been found necessary to inspect, the Central Board has sent its representative.
4.
Absolutely yes. When the members of the boards were named the Government already had on hand all material necessary. Just as soon as the boards were named the material was distributed to them directly by the Government. At present all the material for the voting places is on hand but no distribution has been commenced because the personnel of the voting places has not yet been named. [Page 904]The Department of the Interior has a plan for this distribution in four days as was done when registration began.
5.
The Government has had notice of illegal coercion on the part of the Dominican National Police, alcaldes pedañeos and municipal police but in no case of the slightest importance. Against the Dominican National Police there was a circular letter of a lieutenant coercing a group of voters of the Coalition Party but on investigation it was found that the lieutenant was merely carrying out the law. The only charges against alcaldes pedañeos came from the Province of La Vega and were addressed by Dr. Garcia Mella candidate for the senatorship from the Province. Investigation developed the fact that the alcaldes pedañeos were only requesting their political representatives to cooperate. There was not a single case of violence. In order to avoid similar complaints the Department of the Interior addressed a circular letter to the governors of the provinces on this subject and thereafter the pedaneos abstained from all such work. There may be exaggeration in the matter. It is to be observed that the pedafieo is merely a rustic without salary whose duty is to pursue criminals and there is no law that prohibits him from belonging to a political party. From no part had there been disorderly charges against municipal police. The political newspapers have sometimes talked about members of the municipal police being in sympathy with one political party or other but there has never been anything to base charges on.

Russell