As voters quickly filed into a tin-roofed shack in a Managua slum yesterday morning, checking their ballots in secrecy in curtained corners of this private-home-turned-polling-place, many international electoral observers said the technical aspects of Nicaragua's first post-revolution, presidential election are commendable.
The atmosphere here in the shack, where voters marked their ballots near a framed portrait of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and at nine other polling places visited, would not indicate to the casual observer that this election was basically uncontested.
Sandinista presidential candidate Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a shoo-in because the two major opposition candidates have withdrawn from the race, charging their campaigns were hampered by censorship and their supporters attacked by Sandinista mobs in August and September. The Reagan administration has continued to call the election a sham. Most non-Sandinista Nicaraguan politicians continue to call the vote a nonevent.
One of the two key candidates who withdrew, Virgilio Godoy Reyes of the Independent Labor Party, said in a Monitor interview over the weekend that the Sandinistas should have postponed voting. He said campaign conditions had become better over the past month - with less censorship and a cessation of Sandinista harassment at campaign rallies - but that ''one month of good campaigning is not enough.''
However, he went on to compare favorably Nicaragua's election with presidential elections in El Salvador earlier this year.
''If the US is going to try to be honest in evaluating these elections, it will be a real problem for the Reagan administration,'' Mr. Godoy said.
''If the US administration said that the Guatemalan and Salvadorean elections were valid ones, how can they condemn elections in Nicaragua, when they have been no worse and probably a lot better than elections in Salvador and Guatemala.
''The elections here have been much more peaceful. There were no deaths as in the other two countries, where the opposition were often in fear for their lives.''