The Organization of American States” (OAS) electoral mission says its observers did not encounter evidence of vote buying in Colombia’s Sunday presidential elections, but notes that the voting system has some “structural weaknesses.”
OAS observers said that “pressuring of citizens decreased, which favored more freedom of expression for the voters.”
“None of our 85 observers witnessed vote buying, nor did we receive any complaints in that regard … Vote buying did not manifest in this election,” said OAS electoral mission chairman Enrique Correa.
“The electoral organization demonstrated better preparation and there was evidence of lessons learnt from the March [congressional] elections, which translated into a more orderly process, with more ease for voters, agile and correct filing of documents and the quick transmission of results,” Correa said.
According to the OAS mission, there were not enough voting cubicles in 39% of polling stations, which meant that voting privacy was not adequately provided. Correa says that increasing voter privacy could help to end the practice of vote buying.
The OAS also noted that voting counting was often carried out in cramped spaces, which “increased the risk of errors or manipulations, and hindered the work of impartial observers.”
The OAS mission has offered to observe Colombia’s second round presidential election scheduled for June 20 and will present a report with medium and long term recommendations on how the Colombian electoral system can be improved.
Prior to the elections the OAS had expressed concern over vote buying and said it would be on the look out for a “repetition” of the practice, which was rampant in Colombia’s March congressional elections.