Colombia’s presidential candidates want to see evidence of voter fraud

Both candidates in Colombia’s presidential election race have asked the country’s chief prosecutor to reveal alleged evidence of voter fraud.

Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez said Thursday this year’s elections saw widespread election fraud, but said he would not reveal evidence until after a new president is elected.

The results of legislative elections in March and the first presidential election round last week have become controversial after claims that both votes saw widespread fraud.

Martinez said he would not reveal evidence of “sicking” levels of fraud until after the elections “so they don’t say I am intervening in politics.”

Martinez’ claim contradicted the country’s electoral authorities that have categorically denied fraud claims.

Candidates wants clarity

Conservative candidate Ivan Duque and his leftist opponent Gustavo Petro said Friday they object to the chief prosecutor’s refusal to make evidence public.

“I hope he presents [evidence of election fraud] before so that the country knows,” said Duque of the hard-right Democratic Center party.

Petro, whose campaign has focused on corruption, also urged Martinez to come forward with evidence.

“If there is a degradation process in the elections, why wait until after? What is he waiting for?” the leftist candidate said.

A fraudulent political tradition

Fraud in elections in Colombia wouldn’t be new. Particularly legislative elections have suffered widespread vote-buying for decades.

What is new is that apparent evidence of fraud was made public ahead of the presidential election’s second round.

A history of fraud

  • 1994 – President Ernesto Samper was elected with financial support from the Cali cartel.
  • 1998 – Drug traffickers claimed to have supported candidates in legislative elections.
  • 2002 – Paramilitares said they supported the campaign of President Alvaro Uribe.
  • 2006 – Paramilitares said they supported Uribe’s reelection campaign.
  • 2010 – Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht allegedly financed the campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos
  • 2014 – Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht allegedly financed the campaigns of Santos and his rival, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.

Supporters of Petro have been scrutinizing voter forms after finding that some had apparently been altered to favor Duque.

Electoral observers confirmed that almost 3% of the some 13,000 first round voter forms were altered.

While the alleged fraud would not be widespread enough to change the end result of the first round, it could have changed the candidates’ chances in the second round.

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