Authorities from El Salvador announced on Sunday the closing of the voting centers and the start of the counting of the electoral ballots for the presidential elections held in that country.
As of 7:00 p.m. (local time), the Electoral Tribunal of El Salvador (TSE) indicated that the ballots would begin to be received and, from that moment, the voting data will be updated through the website of the entity.
Salvadorans started voting in the first round of a presidential election Sunday to choose the successor to President Salvador Sanchez Ceren who will leave office on Jun. 1.
El Salvador Presidential Elections: Who's Who?
The elections were supposed to begin at 7:00 am local time with polls closing at 5:00 pm; however, due to delays many voting centers did not open their doors till 8:00 am local time. This resulted in many voters leaving without voting as they had to go to work.
Nidia Diaz, a legislator from leftist FMLN party criticized the delay saying that the right to vote should be guaranteed to all citizens.
More than 5.2 million voters are expected to vote in the 1,595 voting centers throughout the country.
Besides voters within the country’s borders, another 5,948 Salvadorans will be able to vote abroad in diplomatic missions, according to the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE).
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of Sunday's vote, two candidates will pass into a runoff to be held on Mar. 10.
The main candidates are Hugo Martinez, from the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN); Carlos Calleja from the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA); frontrunner Nayib Bukele from the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) and Josue Alvarado from the VAMOS party.
“The TSE calls on the population to have full respect and confidence in the electoral authority, who works to ensure the exercise of the free, direct, egalitarian and secret vote, regulated in the Constitution of the Republic,” wrote the TSE on Twitter.
Since the end of its bloody civil war in 1992, El Salvador has been governed by just two parties: ruling leftists the FMLN, and its rival, the ARENA.
The government arranged for 23,300 agents to keep peace and security during the elections.
A total of 4,063 missions are tasked with observing the elections out of which 2,338 are national missions and 1,725 are international.
The international missions include the European Union, OAS, the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (UNIORE).
The Sunday elections are the sixth since the country regained democracy in 1992.