Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bolivian Court Ruling Rejects 400,000 Voters

(digitalwarriormedia) LA PAZ - Long lines snaked outside the Departmental Court of La Paz on Friday afternoon as hundreds of potential voters sought to verify their right to vote in the upcoming national elections on December 6.

Local papers report similar scenes throughout the country as thousands rush to the departmental courts in search of information and to clarify their voting status.

A ruling issued on Thursday by the National Electoral Court (CNE) determined that more than 400,000 voters lacked a birth certificate and thereby were not properly registered to vote. Citizens would be ineligible to cast their ballots unless they submit a copy of their birth certificate by December 3.

The ruling by the CNE has been criticized by the Morales administration, the opposition and the general public.

On Friday, MAS campaign spokesperson Jorge Silva called the move a violation of the constitution, stating that neither the Constitution nor electoral law support such a decision.

In a country where lack of official documentation has historically been a part of life, previously persons were able to use baptism certificates, military service records and identification cards from government-run programs.

Silva expressed concern that this ruling would fall unfairly upon those living in the rural areas - where obtaining documentation is more difficult - and for those born before 1940 when the government issued baptism certificates instead of birth certificates.

CNE President Antonio Costas stood by the court’s decision stating that they have launched a project to swiftly match citizens and their birth certificates against the Civil Registry. Provisions will be made for those born before 1940.

With just over a week before the election and five days before the December 3 deadline, these assurances mean little to the 400,000 people in danger of being disenfranchised.

Social organizations have taken to the streets in protest. And the Morales administration threatened possible legal action to prevent the ruling from standing.

The upcoming presidential election will be the first time that Bolivia uses a new biometric voter registration program aimed at lessening chances of fraud. The new system was a firm demand of the opposition which refused to pass an electoral bill earlier this year without the implementation of a biometric voter standard.

From August 1 to October 15, the Bolivian government electronically registered more than 5.1 million voters. But the CNE’s ruling reduces that number to 4.7 million eligible voters. The final eligible voter count will not be known until three days before the election.

Photos: Digital Warrior Media



Blogger Unknown said...

Nicely balanced blogging--good job!
My concerns are more about the counting of the votes than about who votes.
I hope that the Bolivian government and the election observers have a way of ensuring that not only are the individual tallies correct, but more importantly, that the tally of the tallies are correct.
Any initiative demanded by Morales' opposition should be scrutinized very closely for the possibility that voting irregularities might occur not in Bolivia, but in the corporate offices that developed the software for counting the votes.
In my opinion, that is where the greatest likelihood for fraud exists--not in the election results for Evo--but in the other races to determine the makeup of the senate.
Viva Bolivia!

November 28, 2009 10:41 AM  

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