Colombia’s presidential election is the safest ever, observers said Saturday, the day before the country’s voters take to the polls.
According to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), the risk of violent intervention by illegal armed groups has never been lower since the civilian observers began monitoring elections in 2007.
The defense ministry said that 155,000 men and women of the security forces are deployed to prevent and respond to incidents.
The MOE flagged 310 municipalities where violence could disrupt the elections. This is considerably less than in 2014 when 389 municipalities were at risk of violent intervention.
Almost 3,900 volunteers, including 205 foreigners, registered with the electoral watchdog to monitor the elections.
The organization said that special monitoring will take place in areas that used to fall under control of the FARC, the guerrilla group that demobilized last year.
According to the defense ministry, 73 municipalities have been flagged for possible violent interference against 194 in 2014.
Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that there have been 500 reports of cybercrime related to the elections. These alleged crimes include death threats, fraudulent software and the spreading of disinformation.
- There has been combat between ELN guerrillas and AGC paramilitaries in Tiquiso, Bolivar. This violence could discourage locals to vote.
- People in the Catatumbo region on the border with Venezuela have said they are afraid to vote after a pamphlet appeared in which regional guerrilla group EPL allegedly imposed a shut-down of the region.
- Dissident FARC guerrillas allegedly imposed a curfew in Arauca, a province on the Venezuelan border.
- A different group of FARC dissidents have reportedly been pressuring and threatening voters in the north of Cauca, a province in the southwest of Colombia.
The MOE said Saturday that it received 221 reports of alleged voter fraud since March 12. The electoral observers expressed particular concern over the large number of companies that allegedly have been pressuring workers.
The organization said it received 22 reports in which officials used their position of state resources to promote a candidate.
According to the Inspector General’s Office, 70 state officials are being investigated on election fraud charges.
Authorities and political parties are on increased alerts after reports of alleged fraud during the legislative elections that were held in March.
All participants in the elections were given the possibility to monitor the vote-counting software after alerts by the MOE and the State Council that the software was vulnerable to fraudsters.