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Chronicle of a massive and premeditated electoral fraud on November 7

To the amount of votes reported in favor of Ortega, the CSE fraud added about one million extra votes

Manuel Orozco

11 de noviembre 2021


On November 7, the Government of Daniel Ortega concluded a premeditated plan to consummate his reelection by criminalizing democracy. On the one hand, by illegitimately eliminating the opposition and intimidating its voters, and on the other hand, by executing a massive electoral fraud.

Electoral fraud is a process that consists of altering the results of an election in favor of whoever carries out the adulteration. This action occurs in several stages and forms.  In many cases it occurs before, during and after the voting process.

The Sandinista Front executed its fraud in a blatant manner, first, by adulterating the records, second, by intimidating and forcing the vote, and third, by hiding the abstention, which it converted into votes for Daniel Ortega. 

Before the elections

In order to put Ortega's electoral victory cards on the table, the CSE proceeded to increase the registration of the number of people eligible to vote. Typically, a country fails to register 100% of its eligible voting population (in Nicaragua everyone over the age of 16 can vote) for different reasons such as death, lack of identification documents, or disinterest, among others, including the intention of the State itself not to register a person.  In addition to a total absence of transparency and accountability, in the last two elections, national (2016) and municipal (2017), the CSE registered between 80 and 90% of those eligible to vote. However, for 2021 it claims to have registered 97% of the eligible voting population, close to 4.5 million Nicaraguans (with other media reporting 4.7 million, it would have registered 115% of those eligible).

This registration reflects an increase of 600 000 persons eligible to vote in four years (2017-2021), presenting an annual growth rate of 3.5% although the natural annual growth of the population over 16 years old was 1.3%. This difference in growth in numbers reflects artificial inflation.

It is worth noting that the popularity and support for Daniel Ortega had already declined abysmally. The CID-Gallup and Borge y Asociados polls showed a gradual fall in Daniel Ortega's favorability (less than 500,000 voters for this year). However, the consulting firm M&R, which is allied with the government, was reporting 68% popularity.

During the election 

Reports from Urnas Abiertas, and even from pro-Government electoral companions, confirmed the absence of a continuous and massive presence of voters during voting day at the polling stations. The information accessible and visible to the population is reinforced by reports of forced public employees, others intimidated by retaliation for not going to vote, in the midst of a generalized silence, except for the hustle and bustle propitiated by the supporters of the Government.

After the vote

The CSE published its first report eight hours after the closing of the JRVs, around 2:15 a.m. on Monday, November 8, granting the FSLN a victory of more than 74%, and confirming with its second report a victory of 75% for Daniel Ortega. 

It is worth noting that two indicators of democratic elections typically show competitiveness reflected in a minimal difference between the two contenders (generally less than 7% distance between the two leading candidates), and victories that rarely exceed 60% of the vote.

Preliminary reports from the CSE show additional evidence of fraud.

First, the Unas Abiertas report contrasts with the CSE report regarding the size of the abstention. The former states that 19.5% (828,492) participated and the CSE states that 64% (2,860,559) participated. The difference between both figures exceeds two million.

Taking into account the official data, in a country hit by three different crises (economic, pandemic and political), Ortega's victory with two million votes would imply that he accumulated more than 300,000 votes five years after the last election.

With polls showing discontent about the government, indicating that it is a bad government, discontent about the imprisonment of opposition leaders, and about the mismanagement of the pandemic, Ortega's popularity had not risen but declined dramatically. This contrast is also confirmed by Urnas Abiertas and general observations by the population.

Second, it is important to emphasize that interest in the other collaborationist parties of the already flawed electoral process lacked popularity, including the PLC, which during this period has not received more than 5% popularity in polls in 2020 and 2021.

All this indicates that the CSE concealed the true number of null votes and abstention in order to adulterate the vote in favor of Daniel Ortega.

Third, the number of votes reported in favor of Ortega does not coincide with the popular sentiment and the national polls (which ranged from 500,000 to no more than 1.2 million). The CSE added about three quarters of a million extra votes for Daniel Ortega, obtained from abstention and possibly the null vote.

Using the abstention data from Urnas Abiertas and producing a median with the CSE and Urnas Abiertas data, it is demonstrated that the vote for Ortega does not exceed 1.4 million, similar to the 2017 municipal election and less than the 2016 presidential election.

But that was really his electoral ceiling.

The second stage of the fraud not only consists of adulterating the abstention by at least one million votes, but to allocate this total to Daniel Ortega.

The Nicaraguan democratic spirit prevailed as the population stayed at home. Nicaraguans voted with their feet, with more than 100,000 people leaving the country (more than three quarters of them over 16 years of age), and most of them with their conviction not to play the regime’s game. 

The pronouncement of the international community is an endorsement of the democratic sentiment of Nicaraguans and their right to a fair and free election, which was not the case this November 7, 2021.

Source: election data reported in:





Urnas  Abiertas tweet; https://www.facebook.com/csenicaragua

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff



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Manuel Orozco

Manuel Orozco

Politólogo nicaragüense. Director del programa de Migración, Remesas y Desarrollo de Diálogo Interamericano. Tiene una maestría en Administración Pública y Estudios Latinoamericanos, y es licenciado en Relaciones Internacionales. También, es miembro principal del Centro para el Desarrollo Internacional de la Universidad de Harvard, presidente de Centroamérica y el Caribe en el Instituto del Servicio Exterior de EE. UU. e investigador principal del Instituto para el Estudio de la Migración Internacional en la Universidad de Georgetown.