Colombian NGO Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said Tuesday it has received more than 300 complaints on electoral crimes and irregularities occurring in the country over the past five months.
A total of 316 reports were submitted by Colombians from October 17 last year to March 3 through the “Pilas con el Voto” program, which allows people to highlight crimes and irregularities such as vote buying, registration fraud, and political extortion.
The online program, which only registered 4 complaints last October as opposed to 211 in February this year, shows a clear increase in the number of reports as the campaigns upcoming congressional and presidential elections gain momentum.
Complaints since October
According to MOE, 216 of the reports dealt directly with electoral crimes and irregularities, including 77 complains of “Political intervention” (30%), 67 reports of “Voter corruption” (26%) — such as vote buying — and 40 reports of voter registration fraud (15%).
The reports of “Political Intervention”, which climbed from 17 in January to 54 in February, refer to political or public entities that pressure their employees to support a particular party or candidate.
MOE judicial adviser Daniela Sierra told Colombia Reports that “this kind of pressure by the employer can be applied by threatening employees and other contractors with employment termination.”
Election fraud reports per 100,000 inhabitants
In a similar fashion, reports of “Voter Corruption” rose from 11 in January to 51 in February and detailed specific vote buying schemes that ranged from $15 to $100 per vote in a number of states throughout the country.
In the municipality of Soledad in the northern state of Atlantico, there were reports that $75 were being offered for each vote for an undisclosed candidate.
Reports also stated that in the adjacent state of Bolivar voters were also being offered around $75 per vote, 50% of which would be paid when voters would register and the other 50% when the vote was verified.
According to Sierra, “These vote buying practices can be conducted by political campaigners as well as private parties who have interests in the voting process and they can be done by direct contact or even at campaign lunches.
The ongoing “Pilas con el Voto” program has so far registered other issues affecting the electoral process including voter registration fraud, claims of candidates being supported by criminal groups, and issues of impartiality by authorities during election day — such as reports that authorities are being paid to alter election results in a number of municipalities.
According to Sierra, all the reports have been sent by the MOE to the authorities — such as the Colombian Rapid Response Unit for Electoral Transparency (URIEL) — to take the appropriate corrective or punitive actions.
The state of Antioquia, followed by Atlantico, Nariño and Cordoba had the majority of the registered complaints with 45, 35, 32 and 30 respectively. States with a low population density, particularly the eastern states of Vichada and Guainia, showed a high number of complaints per 100,000 inhabitants.
- Interview with Daniela Sierra
- MOE ha recibido y entregado a las autoridades 316 reportes ciudadanos sobre delitos e irregularidades electorales (MOE)