The Organization of American States (OAS) released a damning report Thursday on Colombia’s handling of its March congressional elections, highlighting 15,000 irregularities across eighteen of the country’s departments, reports El Tiempo.
The report, which was submitted to the permanent council in Washington, denounced the practice of vote buying as prevalent in Colombia, as well as outlining several areas of the electoral process that need improvement.
The report said that the elections were “confusing and complicated” and that they “require a new system that is clear and specific.”
The inexperience of officials involved in conductiong the elections was also a key point of the report, especially in handling the preferential voting system on the ballots, which many people found confusing.
“The shortcomings of the training led election officials to believe that the delivery of this ballot was optional, so in many tables this ballot was given to only those voters who explicitly requested it,” the report noted.
Despite the irregularities, the report found that compared with previous elections, this year’s congressional were some of the most peaceful in recent memory.
The report concluded by making five recommendations for the upcoming presidential elections:
- Improving training of election officials
- Simplifying and clarifying the voting system on the ballots
- Improving design and layout of polling stations to ensure privacy
- Facilitating public and political party access to tally sheets
- Improving the system of transmitting, processing and presenting the results of elections
Colombia’s Union of Registrar Workers last Friday expressed concern about the nation’s upcoming presidential elections, stressing that if the presidential election ballot papers are transported to Bogota for counting following the close of the polls, it would take several weeks to establish the winner of the election.