Colombia’s national registrar and the president of the National Electoral Council sent a joint letter to President Uribe on Wednesday, repeating their request for more funds to prevent voter fraud in next month’s congressional elections.
The government officials are trying to implement a system of biometric identification in order to prevent voter impersonation. This practice is the most common form of electoral fraud perpetrated in Colombia. The biometric system would counter this by matching each voter’s fingerprint in a database to the information presented on each voter’s government identification card.
In the first half of 2009, COP100 billion was requested to implement the biometric system for use in the elections of 2010, but so far only 30% of the amount requested has been approved, with those funds directed to areas with the greatest risk of voter fraud. Lowering their expectations, registrar Carlos Sanchez and Electoral Council president Marco Hincapie are now asking for COP22 billion pesos.
According to the officials, the partial implementation of this system in 2009 in various gubernatorial and mayoral elections ensured that over one million voters were correctly identified, leading to “greater transparency in the electoral process, legal security, and democratic legitimacy.”
Defense Minister Gabriel Silva announced on Wednesday that his ministry, military forces, and election authorities have designed a security arrangement for the upcoming March congressional elections, which includes 100,000 armed military and police patrolling more than 97% of the country that day. The strategy, officially known as “Plan Democracy,” was described by Silva as a preventive measure to ensure that the elections proceed safely and without disruption.
Colombia will vote for a new Congress on March 14.