Colombia's Shockingly (to a Venezuelan) Mundane Election System

eleccionesLess than an hour after the closing of the polling stations, we learned that Oscar Ivan Zuluaga –Uribe’s boy- pushed President Santos to a presidential runoff vote, actually beating him in the 2nd round of Colombia’s presidential election.

What shocked Venezuelans the most? How quickly they announced the results.

Venezuela is said to have one of the best electoral systems in the world, but Tibisay has left us waiting for hours just to tell us to wait some more. Who can forget the Baranda hours?

We talked with a friend from Bogotá to understand the election process. And we even got a live run through of Election Day via BBmsn.

First: the basics

The Registraduría is the Colombian CNE and the Registrador Nacional is their Tibysay, right now, it’s Carlos Sánchez Torres, a lawyer and academic.

The Registrador Nacional is chosen on a merit-base by the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Council of State for a period of 4 years. The Registrador can’t be an active political militant and shouldn’t be for a least a year prior to the selection process. The Registrador must meet the same requirements applicable to judges and can be re-elected. What’s shocking is that these rules aren’t just on paper: they follow them and everything.

The current Registrador is in his 2nd period. At this point we can’t help but remember that the period of 3 of the 5 Rectores of the CNE expired over a year ago. And we are barely at the start of the conformation of the Comité de Postulaciones del Poder Electoral that will choose the new Rectores.

The 2nd round was born under the Colombian Constitution of 1991. Only Uribe has won in the 1st round, both times. Samper, Pastrana, and Santos won in the 2nd round. Before Samper there was no 2nd round.

You’re allowed to cast a blank vote –meaning protest or null vote. It must not be confused with the Adeco “white” vote- in the 1st and 2nd rounds, but it’s only relevant in the 1st. If in the 1st round it gets 50%+1 of the votes, the elections must be annulled and new candidates must be presented. This has never happened. Otherwise, the two highest placed candidates will meet in the 2nd round.

During Election Day there is little Military Police presence outside the polling stations, dedicated to regular patrol duties. Security inside the stations and its entrance are the sole responsibility of the National Police. In the “red zones” (presence of illegal armed groups) the situation might be different.

A polling station consists of a number tables. The lists of the ID numbers and their corresponding voting table are outside. Once at your table, you hand in your cédula and receive your ballot. ONLY THE ONE WHO’S VOTING can pass to mark the vote. Meaning: no voto asistido for Colombians.

Perhaps most amazing to the Venezuelan psyche is that the entire voting process, including the count, is done by hand. There are some polling stations that are implementing biometric identification (fingerprints), but are just a few.

In case of fraud, attempted fraud or any other irregularities, there are certain authorities in every polling station that they should be reported to.

Election witnesses are selected by the parties and are duly authorized and given IDs. They are observers of the closing of the ballot boxes, the counting and recounting of the votes en mesa, the sealing of the bags with the election materials and the destruction of the remaining material. For reasons that we still find hard to understand, that process ends up yielding results much faster than Venezuela’s multi-million-dollar electronic system. Go figure.

Second: a quick rundown of a typical election day

elecciones-presidenciales-2014A jurado de votación told our friend that the National Anthem was played at 7:58am on May 25.

Her polling station opened at 8:00am and closed at 4:00pm sharp regardless if anyone was still waiting in line to vote.

Mind. Blown!

At this point, the National Anthem was played once more and, directly afterward, the counting of the votes began with the presence of the electoral witnesses.

Third: a trip down Election Day

(We decided to leave it in Spanish. Didn’t want to lose the chispa of our source)

4 soldaditos a más de 100mts de mi puesto de votación
Ni medio en el puesto
Y son PMs
Policía Militar
Basically just regular patrol
Hasta con una bolsita de pan y café sentados……

El frente de Unicentro [Centro Comercial]
Tiene como 4 o 5 cuadras
Había como 5 soldaditos spread out
En la parte de atrás como 4
Solo como pa hacer presencia

Si hay mucho policía normal alrededor de Unicentro
Mucho más que lo normal
Pero es normal pal 3er centro de votación de Bogotá… casi que de Colombia
Si querías entrar a Falabella
Podías entrar fresco
La ciudad sigue

Y los milicos solo fuera de los puestos como tal
Adentro no se ve ni uno
Hay una cosa que se llama “mesa de justicia”
Que no sé qué hace….pero creo que tiene gente de organismos de control
Ahora, como te digo… en región debe ser diferente
Especialmente en zona roja

Y a las 4
Si no votaste

Aquí ya el registrador dijo
Primer boletín 4.30pm
A las 9pm 95%
Y siguen con boletines hasta las 11pm

Me demore 15 entre buscar que mesa me toco, entrar, buscar la mesa votar y salir
Y no es electrónico
Creo que tienen un app
Donde ves los updates as they are uploaded
Las mesas llenan una cosa que se llama forma E14 creo
Se va a poder ver el scan de esa forma en cada mesa

38 mins después
43% de resultados ya listos

Abstención se calcula arriba del 60%
Voto en blanco termina alrededor del 6%
Fenómeno de redes sociales no más
Chinos que no votan
En menos de 1 hora
89.39% escrutado
Zuluaga 29.10% Santos 25.45%
Santos 3ro en Bogotá
Muuuuy diciente
Zuluaga 29.21% Santos 25.45% Ramírez 15.58%

Ya hay candidatos reconociendo derrotas
En 1 hr
Tiempo record

Bombardeen de artículos comparando…..
Zuluaga 29.24%
No oí santos
Pero debe ser por ahí a los 25%

I asked: ¿las encuestas la pegaron?
Cosa que no pasó hace 4 años

[si fuera Santos] Yo estaría muerto del susto
Un presidente
Con todos los recursos
Y nada?

No lo quieren y peor
No le creen
Zuluaga 29.27% Santos 25.61%

Los analistas dicen
Que mucha gente
Votará con Santos [en 2da vuelta]
Por votar contra Uribe
Es así

[el tema de Uribe sigue] Hasta que dejen de pararle bolas…..que-viene-alvaro-uribe-a-quien-carajo-le-importa