Polling stations opened Sunday around Colombia for local and regional elections that have been stained by the killing of 41 candidates, the political parties’ withdrawn endorsement of over a 1,000 allegedly criminal politicians and the alleged cancellation of 4 million identity cards suspected to be used for election fraud.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived six minutes after polling station opened at 8AM local time to vote in the capital city Bogota where the mayor’s office is sought for by socialist Gustavo Petro and centrist Enrique Peñalosa and Gina Parody.
On Saturday, Santos called on fellow Colombians to vote, stressing that thanks to the government’s reform of royalty distribution, municipalities will have a higher budget.
“You can not let the corrupt manage the public funds. If you do not vote with your conscience you can not complain that nothing is seen of public works or that corruption continues,” the president said in his last pre-election speech.
According to Santos, the government has done all in its powers to avoid systematic corruption. The cancellation of identity cards of more than 10% of the eligible voters means that “the dead can no longer vote for the corrupt,” said Santos. Common practice in previous Colombian elections were the last-minute registering of voters in a municipality to secure the election of a mayoral or council candidate.
Despite the attempts to curb corruption, in at least one town in the north of Colombia, there are more registered voters than actual residents.
The website of the Electoral Observation Mission was attacked by hackers on Saturday, but was back online hours after the attack.
Polls will close at 4PM. Results in the major cities are expected to be known the same evening.