An independent Colombian electoral observation agency said Saturday that it will have a force of more than 3,700 observers supervising Colombia’s congressional elections Sunday.
The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said that members from 378 organizations will be part of the observation team.
The observers will have presences in 31 of Colombia’s 32 states and in 383 municipalities. According to the observation body, the observers will be able to oversee the election process for 73% of Colombia’s electorate.
An additional 43 foreign citizens will serve as volunteer election observers in 11 departments. The foreign observers will also operate a “crisis room” where they will transmit information about the electoral process to and from Colombian authorities, media and Colombian citizens.
MOE stated that observers will be present in the predetermined polling stations from the 8AM start of the elections to the 4PM close of polls nationwide.
MOE noted that 87 Colombian and foreign observers have been present in 19 of the 63 Colombian embassies and consulates with polling stations abroad. Colombian citizens living in one of the 63 countries with polling stations have been eligible to vote in the congressional elections since March 3. All observers have been trained in the Colombian electoral system, observation methods, forms of electoral fraud and are reportedly accredited by the National Electoral Council said MOE.
MOE’s announcement followed a press release Friday from the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office that the ombudsman will work in communication with another human rights office and the Prosecutor General’s Office to monitor voting stalls in Bogota to ensure transparency and legitimacy during Sunday’s elections.
According to the ombudsman’s press release more than 1100 members from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Bogota Human Rights Office and the Colombian Ombudsman’s office will join forces to watch over the Colombian capital’s voting process during the congressional elections set for this Sunday.
According to a Bogota radio station the surveillance duties will include 525 members of the Prosecutor General’s Office, 430 from the ombudsman’s office and an additional 160 members of Bogota’s Human Rights Office.
Bogota’s districts will reportedly be divided among the three government bodies in an attempt to solidify voting safety and fairness throughout the entire city for its seven million inhabitants.
Potential for voter fraud
Voter fraud has been a great worry for Colombia in the months leading up to the March 9 congressional elections. MOE said Tuesday that there had been over 300 complaints of voter fraud between October 17 and March 3.
Colombia’s Ombudsman released a report on March 3 that warned of electoral risk for almost 20% of Colombia’s more than 1123 municipalities from armed groups. Voter risks include vote buying, voter intimidation and voter registration fraud.
More than 2300 candidates are running for seats in the House of Representatives and Senate. There are reportedly 166 open seats in the House of Representatives and an additional 102 in the Senate.
- Press Release (MOE)
- Interview with MOE representative Felipe Jimenez
- Election Guide (Democracy Assistance and Election News)
- Avanza dispositivo del Ministerio Público para las elecciones lesgislativas (Colombian Ombudsman’s Office)
- Procuraduría, Personería y Defensoría del Pueblo ejerceran severo control sobre el proceso electoral (Radio SantaFe)
- Municipios de Colombia (Wikipedia)