A week before Colombia’s 2018 legislative elections, the country’s State Council said that fraud in the 2014 elections effectively removed an evangelical party from the Senate.
The top court ordered to appoint three seats in the Senate to the independent MIRA party after concluding that 14,000 ballots had been destroyed and that the software used to scrutinize votes had been sabotaged.
It is unclear whether this fraud has negatively affected other political parties. What is clear is that the parties that benefited from the fraud were the Liberal Party, Citizens’ Option and the Democratic Center.
MIRA has long had one of the most stable electoral support bases. So when they surprisingly were voted out of the Senate in 2014, the party immediately began a recount.
Some 1,000 MIRA volunteers took on the job to recount all the voter forms and confirmed their fears: in several towns in central and northern Colombia thousands of votes had disappeared.
More worryingly, they found evidence that the software that scrutinized the votes had been sabotaged. This “bug” cost the party more than 235,000 votes, and equivalent of 1.7% of the counted votes.
In a ruling that was made public a few days ago, the State Council ordered Senate President Efrain Cepeda (Conservative Party) to remove three senators and allow MIRA’s return to the legislative chamber.
Former MIRA Senator Carlos Baena announced that his party would again call on its volunteers to recount the results of the elections that will be held on Sunday.
National Electoral Council (CNE) magistrate Armando Novoa said to be “shocked” by the fraud and told newspaper El Tiempo that the software has been updated.
An anonymous source at the CNE told the newspaper that the evidence showed that “external agents can intervene” in vote-counting, “with help from the inside.”
According to National Registrar Juan Carlos Galindo, who was appointed in 2015, the voting software has been fortified to allow fair elections this time.