The votes are in and now the counting has began. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has been busy counting the votes, trying to get the ballot boxes to its counting centers and also trying to transmit the results electronically to its central office in La Paz. However, already in the third day of counting, this task has proven very difficult. Though the office has 12 days after the election to present official results, it has been the normal process to have close to 100 per cent of the votes two or three days after the elections. At least that is how I remember from past elections. During the rest of the available days, the office usually counted twice or three times to make sure the results were correctly counted.
This time around however, there are a number of irregularities being reported by some people. For example:
- militants of opposition parties reported the departmental elections office had published (on the web) the results in a special district when in fact the ballot boxes had not been open yet.
- in the same site (see prior post), the results for UD had gone up and then down in a matter of hours (taking into account votes for a party can only go up as the votes are counted).
- in Sucre, the departmental office published the percentage of votes counted for the district 1 which first were 75 and later in the day were 45 per cent.
- in Tarija, for district 40, earlier in the day there were 420 voting tables from which were counted around 66 thousand votes. Later in the day there was one more table and the votes went up to 88 thousand votes. The curious thing was the first time around an opposition candidate was winning and later a MAS candidate had won.
- in Tarija a ballot box with 4000 votes appeared in a voting precinct which only had 300 voters.
If this is an indication of anything, it is an indication the counting process has not been planned well and it has turned very chaotic.
Of course, the opposition has been prompt in proposing several theories for why are these things happening.
1. The first explanation, made by an opposition leader from Santa Cruz, argues the government is slowing the counting process down because it wants to justify the lead it had in the polls. This assumes of course the MAS did not have such a significant lead.
2. The other explanation/accusation argues the government (namely the electoral office) is manipulating the results to reallocate seats from the opposition in favor of the MAS.
I have to say, this type of denunciations from the part of the opposition is not rare in Bolivia. In the last elections, there was also a wave of electoral fraud reports. Some people also found ballot boxes full of MAS votes and the like. However, nothing got cleared or investigated and some weeks after no one remembered those reports. If I had to guess, I would say, this time will happen the same thing.