Colombia’s National Registrar is reporting that with a few hours left in Colombia’s second-round presidential run-off between Juan Manuel Santos and Antanas Mockus, voter turnout is down 11% compared to the first-round of the elections, as guerrilla violence, poor weather, and World Cup fever takes its toll.
According to the Registrar, as of 2:00 PM, two hours before polls close, only 9.03 million Colombians have cast their votes in this landmark election, down roughly 11% compared to the the amount of votes registered by the same time during the May 30 first round presidential election.
“We know that on Sunday there are three World Cup matches, but there are political parties who are risking the future of our country in the coming years,” said National Registrar, Carlos Ariel Sanchez.
“The consequences of a football game is 90 minutes, while the consequences of a presidential election are at least four years, and is therefore very important to get out and vote and stick a goal to abstention,” added Sanchez.
The latest report from the Registrar appears to show that Colombians are heading to the polls later in this day compared to May 30. As of 12:30 PM, the registrar reported that compared to the same time on May 30, turnout was down 18%.
Colombians overseas also appear to be voting in lower numbers. Colombia’s Consul General in London, England, reported that as of mid-day, only half of the registered voters have actually voted, while in Spain, it was reported that only 7,545 Colombians voted of the 55,000 registered.
According to Alejandra Barrios, director of Colombia’s Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), heavy rains and World Cup soccer matches have contributed highly to Colombians’ indifference to vote.
For his part, Colombia’s Interior Minister, Fabio Valencia Cossio, expressed his worry about voter abstention, which, according to government estimates, could reach 60%, a much higher rate than the 51% witnessed in the May 30 election.
“We are very worried over the very low voter participation across the entire country. I would like to call, in the name of the national government… on all citizens of Colombia to go out and vote; a democracy is consolidated through voter participation, and the reports that we have show that there is very little turnout,” Valencia Cossio lamented.
Meanwhile, reports of increased guerrilla activities continue to come in from across the country and has left several dead.
In the northwestern department of Norte de Santander, an alleged ELN ambush left seven police officers dead, and three soldiers were reported killed in combat with the FARC‘s 53 Front in the department of Meta.
The ambush in Norte de Santander, according to Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva Luján, occurred when a police patrol had entered into an ELN minefield in the municipality of Tibu.
According to Colombian Army General Dagoberto García Cáceres, the combat in Meta that left three soldiers dead occurred early in the morning in the municipalities of Mesetas and Puerto Lleras, and also resulted in the death of six FARC guerrillas.
It was also reported in Norte de Santander that guerrillas burnt ballot boxes that were destined for the town of San Calixto and destroyed a communications tower.
In Antioquia, guerrillas appearantly sabotaged the electrical gridleaving nearly 100,000 people from the municiplaiites of Ituango, Peque, San Andres de Cuerquia, San Jose de la Montaña and Toleda without power.