Approximately 7.3 million Bolivians were asked to elect a new president for the country this Sunday (18). More than 14,000 polling stations are open in the morning and the vote will take place until 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m., Brasília time).
The choice was marked by lines that were always longer than the previous ones. According to the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), slowness is related to social distancing measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
Around 100 international observers are monitoring the process. Congresswoman Sâmia Bomfim (PSOL-SP) is following the elections in Bolivia through the Mercosur parliament (Parlasul) together with three other delegates from Uruguay and Argentina.
Parlasul was one of the international institutions that viewed the dismissal of ex-President Evo Morales as a coup.
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For the first time in the country’s history, the armed forces provide security for ballot boxes and polling stations. In other cases, the electoral board staff were responsible for the logistics and protection of citizens.
The PSOL MP reported that officials treated voters with hostility.
“Our presence here is to show solidarity because the Bolivian people are being prevented from voting. We have heard many complaints about repression in the streets,” said the Brazilian parliamentarian. “In addition to state repression, there are many paramilitary groups that attack the headquarters of social movements, attacking men and women on the streets. This hostile climate is expressed today. The presence of the armed forces in schools is a clear symbol of intimidation.”
TSE President Salvador Romero pointed out during a press conference at noon that the process is going smoothly.
In the early hours of the morning, electoral authorities denounced the theft of an urn in the Caravani region of La Paz, and some polling stations opened up to three hours later than expected. These events were viewed as “isolated facts”.
In one of the largest electoral zones in the La Paz region, at the Franco Boliviano school, where around 10,000 people vote, there was confusion with the military presence and the militants of the Civil Community Party.
“The delegates of the Ciudadã Community Party, candidate Carlos Mesa [em 2º lugar nas pesquisas]Who were supposed to be watching the process just like us, handled the logistics, managed the queues and called people to vote. We see this with great concern, “reports the American observer of the Codepink movement, Zoe Pepper-Cunningham.
#eleicoesnabolivia I Bolivians line up to enter the Franco Boliviano Electoral College. More than 10,000 people will vote in this school today. According to the local reporter, there is great confusion and the military is present. Follow https://t.co/UviSSQc1SA pic.twitter.com/zOQfFfY2Dr
– Brasil de Fato (in 🏠) (@brasildefato), October 18, 2020
Given the situation, the observer from the Inter-American Union of Electoral Granism Mission (Uniore), Pamela San Martín, urged citizens to monitor the process.
“We ask them to follow all the steps and take pictures of the minutes so they can compare this information with the official statement,” he said.
Change in results disclosure
About 12 hours before the trial began, Romero announced the suspension of the disclosure of the preliminary results, which are practically being sent by the states to the TSE.
“This created great instability, as it was one of the fundamental elements of the OAS report that accused electoral fraud. Now, this year, they do not want to use this system,” commented Bolivian militant Juan Luis Gutierrez.
In October 2019, the OAS observation mission indicated, based on the preliminary results, that the process had been tampered with. A year later, a number of independent studies show the opposite.
Due to the changes, the results of the elections this Sunday should not be known until Wednesday (21).
A total of 27 countries have opened voting zones for Bolivians living abroad. According to the TSE, 138 polling stations out of a total of 1,443 polling zones had been closed by 2 p.m. (local time). The voting has already ended in China, South Korea, Japan, India, Russia, the Netherlands and Austria.
In South Korea, 15 of the 22 eligible voters voted. Six of the eight qualified participants took part in New Delhi, the Indian capital.
According to the president of the electoral power, TSE delegates in Bolivia and abroad should start counting votes shortly after the elections are over at 6 p.m. The entire TSE room starts calculating on Monday (7pm) at 5.30am.
In political asylum in Argentina, the former President Evo Morales called on the population to vote massively. “The main task is to strengthen democracy, peace and stability in our country,” defended the former head of state.
Edition: Daniel Giovanaz