Registrar accepts blame for election irregularities

Colombia’s National Registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez on Monday accepted responsibility for the Registry’s part in irregularities in the congressional elections held Sunday, but says that telecommunications agency UNE should also assume partial responsibility.

According to Sanchez, delays in vote counting occurred because ballot papers required voters to vote for five separate entities: a Senate candidate, a House of Representative candidate, a presidential candidate for the Conservative party, a presidential candidate for the Green party, and a candidate for Colombia’s representative in the Andean Parliament.

Delays in vote counting therefore occurred because of the sheer number of votes that had to be processed, Sanchez explained.

Sanchez said that UNE, the private telecommunications company contracted to provide technical services for ballot handling following the election, must also assume partial responsibility for election irregularities.

Sanchez was responding to Colombian Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio’s fierce criticism of the National Registrar for its delay in counting all of the votes in Sunday’s Conservative Party primary.

UNE responded to criticisms in a press release, blaming the National Registry and saying that given the complexity of the ballots, it took much longer to process and count the votes.

However UNE was also responsible for the National Registry’s website and the website publishing election bulletins, both of which were down for most of Sunday and Monday, thus restricting the public’s access to up-to-date election information.

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