The names of 800,000 deceased people have been removed from the electoral registry to help create more transparency in the voting process for the October local elections, newspaper El Espacio reported Monday.
This is the largest cleansing of the voters’ database in Colombian history, and involved removing the names of Colombians who died as long ago as 1938. It aims to help the process of electing governors, mayors, councillors and members of local administrative boards.
Some Colombian politicians are accused of fraudulently using the votes of deceased constituents to increase their chances of winning office. Through tricks such as having someone ineligible to vote use the identity of someone deceased, or having the person working the poll fill out ballots on behalf of the dead, politicians have used the “votes” of the deceased to their advantage.
“Even if a citizen dies, sometimes the civil registration of the deceased does not reach the Registrar, and, accordingly, their card cannot be removed from the National Archives of Identification (ANI), or the electoral roll, which allows many to commit fraud,” registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez told the newspaper.
Removing names of the deceased from the electoral roll will also help accuracy in measuring voter turnout, reports El Espacio. According to Colombian law, one quarter of the eligible voters must participate in a referendum and one third in popular votes for the results to be valid. The elimination of deceased “voters” will ensure greater accuracy in these numbers.
Electoral fraud has plagued the Colombian democratic process in recent years. In addition to using names of deceased people to increase votes, in the lead up to the 2010 presidential elections some accused contestants of vote-buying and illegally using government entities and officials to promote candidates.