Colombia’s anti-corruption coalition said the country’s registrar broke the law by failing to report turnout statistics in Sunday’s failed anti-corruption referendum.
Sunday’s vote largely hinged on voter turnout because, in order for the referendum to pass, 12.1 million voters had to turn out. When polls closed at 4PM, the results fell short by less than 500,000, according to local media.
The National Registry, which is responsible for vote-counting, failed to report how many people had cast their vote, reporting only the votes for each of the seven questions asked in the referendum.
Did registrar Juan Carlos Galindo fail to do his job again?
Former senator Claudia Lopez, who spearheaded the anti-corruption initiative, said Tuesday that she will challenge the referendum results.
“What the Registry reported in the pre-count is incomplete,” Lopez said. “He did not deliver the complete number from the data presented the past Sunday.”
Hoy impugnamos los resultados de todas las mesas ante las 2048 Comisiones Escrutadoras @CNE_COLOMBIA. @Registraduria violo la Ley, no reportó el total de sufragantes y tarjetones depositados que determinan umbral de participación. Solo reportó el umbral de aprobación por pregunta
— Claudia López (@ClaudiaLopez) August 28, 2018
Voter fraud has plagued recent elections in Colombia for years, but appears to be left unattended by National Registrar Juan Carlos Galindo, who was criticized by the State Council in February already for failing to attend mass fraud in the 2014 legislative elections.
One think tank estimated that between 10% and 20% of congressmen who were elected to Congress in March had benefited from the same fraud techniques that removed the Evangelical Christian MIRA party from the senate in 2014.
A year full of fraud
President Ivan Duque’s election in June brought more fraud allegations when even Chief Prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez said his office had discovered “nauseating” levels of fraud and confirmed claims of a crime ring seeking to alter election results.
In one case, for instance, counts for Duque on a voter form appeared to be changed from 19 to 219.
Galindo has refused to investigate this and other fraud allegations, claiming that the altered voter forms were the result of “human error.”
This time, registrar “broke the law”
Sunday’s referendum, aimed at reducing corruption in what’s historically known as Colombia’s most corrupt institution, Congress, would have been a historic step after years of fighting by activists. But the vote was rejected by Duque’s political patron, controversial former President Alvaro Uribe, whose hard-right Democratic Center party led a push to quash voter turnout.
Lopez and other activists were quick to note that they weren’t alleging fraud in this vote, but rather noted that the votes reported by Galindo and and Registry were incomplete and the Registrar “broke the law” by being negligent again.
Lopez, Senator Angalica Lozano (Green Alliance) and other members of the anti-corruption coalition called on the National Electoral Council (CNE) to consider the complaint.
“He (Galiendo) wouldn’t go further than giving the results for each question,” wrote Lozano in a tweet, “The law requires giving the total number of participants.”
The Registry responded to the claims Tuesday night, saying that the results presented on Sunday were preliminary and have no “legal value.” The official results, according to the registry and the CNE, can only be determined by notoriously corrupt CNE.
“The official results of the vote will only be known when the process of scrutiny is concluded by the scrutinizing commissions and the National Electoral Council,” the Registry said.
The CNE, like Galindo, was reprimanded by the State Council in February for neglecting to effectively scrutinize votes.