Electoral observers have rang the alarm about an imminent risk for fraud in the October elections in the Antioquia department, something the Governor’s Office denies.
According to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), the department of Antioquia has by far the largest number of reported cases of electoral fraud in the country.
Forty percent of the country’s complaints about electoral fraud stem from the department, the observers said.
“Of the 125 municipalities, there are 101 with some level of risk in the department. 71 for electoral variables and 72 for political violence. There are 14 that show a combined risk,” regional MOE representative Patricia Fernandez told reporters.\
The capital of Medellin has shown an extreme risk of election fraud because of the presence of several armed groups, political violence and, mass displacement within the city, limits to the freedom of press and a general disinterest in taking part in the elections.
The MOE warned also about heightened risk of fraud in the municipalities of Taraza, Campamento, El Bagre, Caldas, Apartado, Urrao, Anori, Ituango, Dabeiba, Amalfi, Zaragoza, Granada and San Francisco.
According to the country’s inspector general, the most worrisome is electoral transhumance; people registering to vote in other districts than where they live.
“There are more than 250 complaints regarding electoral transhumance, complaints about the registration of more than 50,000 identity papers,” Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez was quoted as saying by Medellin newspaper El Colombiano.
The ombudsman of Cocorná, a town of 20,000 in the southwest of Antioquia, told the newspaper that “here between 5,000 and 5,500 vote and for these elections 2,045 new citizens registered.” After comparing databases, the ombudsman concluded that 1,007 inscriptions were false. “At least 500 people on this list live in Medellin, Rionegro, Santuario or San Francisco.”
In the town of San Luis, 95% of the newly registered voters proved to not be residents.
The Office of sitting Antioquia Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos, himself under investigation for alleged ties to paramilitary groups, told media that “democracy in Antioquia is not under threat.”
“More than 80% of the municipalities have no problem to face the electoral process,” Government Secretary Andres Julian Rendon said.
The National Electoral Council (CNE), responsible for purging voter registration lists, says its will begin scrutinizing the alleged electoral fraud.
“We hope to have news on [electoral] transhumance in Antioquia in two weeks,” said CNE magistrate Oscar Giraldo.
Local elections are held in Colombia on October 30.