Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Elections in Colombia

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Elections in Colombia

Article excerpt

THE ELECTORAL Observation Mission (EOM) that accompanied Colombia's March legislative elections and the first and second rounds of the presidential elections in May and June, 2010, recently presented its report to the OAS Permanent Council. The report emphasized the "successful manner" in which the elections were carried out and called them "an achievement of the Colombian government and people." Chief of Mission Enrique Correa underscored the high level of citizen participation and the decrease in levels of violence as compared to previous decades. "These were elections with few unpleasant surprises for candidates, juries, party representatives, and voters," he reported.

However, the report did mention some "structural difficulties in the Colombian electoral system that require legal and technical adjustments to correct." These included a high number of polling places with inadequate conditions for voting.

"This is a structural weakness in the election process that does not occur only in the rural areas where the infrastructure is precarious, but also in the large cities where a crowding of tables and open air polling sites was observed," the report noted.

The Mission--composed of 81 observers who covered 30 of Colombia's 32 departments--made recommendations to the Colombian government, including the following: improve conditions and accommodations in the polling places; provide party representatives with copies of the official vote counts to contribute to the transparency of the process; increase security and guarantees in the transmission of preliminary election results; and audit, update, and purge the lists of voters, preferably through the creation of a biometric record. …

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