839.00/2744: Telegram

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

45. From Welles.

The Department considers the question raised by decision of Central Electoral Board referred to in your 52 [53] of October 8, 5 p.m. of the utmost importance. The action taken by the Board furnishes the most gratifying evidence of its independence and moral courage and its determination to see that the Electoral Law is strictly enforced. On the other hand, after careful consideration of the precedents created in the carrying out of similar legislation, notably the Cuban Electoral Law, I am definitely of the belief that the provision of Article 84, violated by the Party Assembly of La Vega, should be regarded purely as directive. If the party ticket was properly adopted by the delegates of the Provincial Assembly, and there is no evidence of fraud in the original “acta” of the Assembly, the decision of the Central Electoral Board in refusing to accept the ticket of the Alliance for the Province of La Vega merely on the ground that a duplicate copy in proper form was not transmitted would result in a grave injustice to a large percentage of the electors never contemplated when the law was adopted. The solution of the problem appears simple. The Central Electoral Board should notify the Provincial Assembly of the Alliance in La Vega that its failure to comply with the provisions of Article 84 of the Election Law constitutes a violation of the Law and must be immediately corrected by the drawing up of a duplicate copy of the original “acta” signed by all the delegates, and that the party ticket for that Province will be confirmed by the Central Electoral Board and transmitted by it, as provided in the Law, only after such action is taken.

In view of my belief that this Government should refrain from any open intervention in the functioning of the Dominican electoral machinery and that the prestige of the Central Electoral Board should be maintained at all costs it is my opinion that the President is the only person competent to adjust this very grave question. I suggest that you have, at once, an interview with the President and read to him the views above expressed and the solution proposed: and request him, if, as I trust, he concurs, to have immediately a strictly confidential conversation with the three permanent members of the Central Electoral Board in order that he may make the above suggestions as of his own initiative. It is of such extreme importance that the Law in these first elections be construed in a liberal, and not in a restrictive sense, so that the desires of the electorate may be expressed [Page 907]with the utmost lawful freedom, that I am confident that the permanent members of the Central Electoral Board will accept the solution proposed, which does not constitute a reversal of the Board’s decision, and which is likewise still possible in view of the fact that I understand the ticket was filed within the time specified by the Law.

Please report by cable at the earliest opportunity.

Phillips