A Colombian NGO that monitors the country’s electoral processes reported that there are high chances of electoral fraud occurring in the upcoming October elections.
In a recent report, the Electoral Monitoring Commission (MOE) noted a number of irregularities at various registration posts throughout the country. These included, among other things, the use of sponsored mass transport to bring citizens to register, inadequate availability of information regarding location of registration posts and the presence of candidates or representatives at the registration posts.
MOE Director Alejandra Barrios said to Colombia Reports that all of these factors, occurring in major cities throughout the country, are cause for concern, as they indicate the potential for fraudulent practices occurring during the election process. She noted that mass transport of seniors is a particular worry, as this is considered a vulnerable sector of the population.
Barrios also said that the organization is particularly worried about this year’s elections, because they are local elections, making them “very difficult to monitor” and “very competitive,” meaning that — because of a lower turnout than with national elections — every vote counts.
The director also expressed concern over the effects of this year’s rainy season on the electoral process, saying that certain candidates may offer resources in return for votes, whereas citizens “should have the right to free aid.”
She said that the organizations’ main recommendations to the government are to set out an information campaign to inform citizens of their rights, to make it easier for citizens to report irregularities, to take more steps to investigate reported irregularities, and to put in place control mechanisms such as biometric identification systems.
Regarding the numerous irregularities and cyber attacks that occurred during last year’s national elections, which have been linked to IP addresses of the national police and DAS agents, Barrios said it is essential to determine responsibility before the elections occur. She stated that the allegations made against officials are “so grave that they could fracture the confidence” of Colombian citizens.
In October, Colombia will hold local elections and vote for new mayors, governors, members of council and deputies. These elections’ primaries were held on Sunday with a 10% turnout.
Barrios said that in July and August, national universities will present roadmaps that establish the municipalities in which irregularities are most likely to occur, and will make specific recommendations to Colombian citizens in areas of concern.