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News > Latin America

Irregularities Reported as Colombian Polls Close

  • A Colombian casts his vote with the help of his son during the legislative elections in Bogota, Colombia, March 11, 2018.

    A Colombian casts his vote with the help of his son during the legislative elections in Bogota, Colombia, March 11, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 March 2018

The Electoral Observer Mission, which had warned of the risk of fraud in hundreds of municipalities, reported considerable problems.

Polls have now closed in Colombia's legislative and primary elections, but major irregularities have been reported throughout the country.

Colombia's Legislative and Presidential Elections: Who's Who?

The National Civil Registry said ballots had run out in Medellin, Cucuta and Manizales, but voters could use photocopies: "An agreement was reached with the political parties and movements, due to the budget restriction and they authorized the continuation of the procedure with photocopies," said Juan Carlos Galindo.

Videos circulated on social media apparently showing an official hiding ballot papers, as well as possible evidence of vote-buying in several locations. 

The Electoral Observer Mission (OEM), which had warned of the risk of fraud in hundreds of municipalities, also reported considerable problems.

Colombians are electing 102 senators and 166 members of the chamber of representatives

According to an ABC News report, the center-right will comfortably win about 60 percent of the seats, while the Revolutionary Alternative Force for the Commons (FARC) will struggle to gain ground.

"The FARC are in a tough position," Leon Valencia from the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation said.

"If they get a low turnout, as is expected, their congressmen will be shunned: they will not be seen as true representatives of the people," Valencia explained, referring to the 10 congressional seats guaranteed to FARC under the terms of the peace deal.

President Juan Manuel Santos noted the participation of the newly formed political party, which was formerly a guerrilla movement, as being significant in the electoral process. The government and former rebel movement had engaged in a 50-year civil war.

The Colombian Ministry of Defense announced the deployment of more than 100,000 military and police officials to monitor the elections.

The parliamentary election is a precursor to the upcoming presidential elections in May. The FARC suffered a minor setback resulting in the organization's withdrawal from the presidential elections after candidate Rodrigo 'Timochenko' Londoño had to undergo heart surgery last week.

Santos claims the legislative elections will be the safest in the recent history of the country, citing the ceasefire agreement with the FARC.

Live Updates

4:00 p.m.

Election officials confirm that polls are closed.

3:30 p.m.

National Civil Registry head Juan Carlos Galindo says the issue with paper ballots has been resolved.

2:30 p.m.

12:20 p.m.

The Mission of Electoral Observance says that 40 percent of the observed voting stations have electoral propaganda, which is forbidden on election day.

12:10 p.m.

Gustavo Petro, leftist leading presidential candidate, cast his vote. He also denounced the lack of electoral guarantees.

12:00 p.m. 

Gustavo Petro, leftist leading presidential candidate, warned of election irregularities. 

11:20 a.m.

Tatiana Piñeros, a transwoman running for the senate, voted for the first time as a woman.

11:04 a.m.

The independent group Mission of Electoral Observance published a list of 141 municipalities with more voters than actual inhabitants.

10:30 a.m.

Several FARC members say they have not been able to vote because their names don't appear on the lists.

9:20 a.m.

Colombia's former president Alvaro Uribe and his presidential candidate Ivan Duque voted in Bogota.

8:45 a.m.

Senior FARC offcial Ivan Marquez, who is also a candidate for the assembly, cast his vote. 

8:35 a.m.

Pablo Catatumbo, former FARC commander and now a member of the newly-formed party's national direction, voted for the first time in his life.

8:16 a.m.

Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, exercised his right to vote in the Plaza Bolivar, downtown Bogota.

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