The National Electoral Council (CNE) officially declared Partido de la U candidate Juan Manuel Santos the winner of Colombia’s May 30 first round presidential elections, despite allegations by independent researchers of widespread fraud.
The official declaration, which indicates that Santos beat Green Party’s Antanas Mockus by 3,667,821 votes, follows testimony by various electoral witnesses and CNE officials that no complaints of fraud were registered. The CNE claims that the fraud allegations are baseless.
According to CNE president Adelina Cove, the investigations published that show discrepancies between vote counts from individual polling stations and the results on the website of Colombia’s National Registry have no legal validity.
“This is non-official information, that is really being blown out of proportion,” the electoral official said.
The CNE president also added the fraud complaints have no basis because the CNE does not derive its final vote counts from the pre-count data sheets examined in the fraud investigation.
The fraud allegations were published by a group on Facebook that compared the handwritten voting results from the polling stations with the official results on the National Registry’s website. Photos of more than a thousand cases where the official numbers are different than those on the polling station slips are shown on the social media website, which accounts for 1.5% of the total “mesas,” or voting stations, in the first round.
In one example posted on the site, Santos received 14 votes in one location, while in the officially published results this number changed to 88.
Checks by media show that in other cases the results of other candidates were affected both positively and negatively, which makes it impossible to determine which candidate benefited from the alleged fraud.
According to Registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez, the final results are different from those taken from the website by independent monitors, because the data is given via telephone and miscommunication between officials speaking over the phone can occur.
The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), a Colombian NGO monitoring the elections, announced it will investigate the alleged fraud and urged official electoral authorities to do the same.
The campaign director for Mockus, Liliana Caballero, said on Thursday that they are bringing the complaints to the nation’s Prosector General’s Office, in addition to the Organization of American States.
“We want the authorities in charge to verify if the complaints are correct or not … But we want to make it clear that we our not going to assume this [investigative] work ourselves,” Caballero said.