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OAS Presents Report on Electoral Oversight Mission in Colombia

  March 21, 2012

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, by means of its Department of Electoral Observation and Cooperation, today presented its report on gubernatorial, mayoral, council and administrative elections in Colombia on October 30, 2011 to the Permanent Council of the OAS.

In the absence of the Chief of Mission, Beatriz Paredes, the Deputy Chief of Mission Charlotte McDowell presented the report, in which she highlighted the fact that it was the first election in Colombia “to be carried out under the implementation of the Political Reform of July 2011”. McDowell said that during the process it became evident “the increasing relevance of the provision of the Colombian legislation for candidates not put forward by political parties, such that at the national level these candidates obtained in the election of mayors almost double the amount of votes as the candidates of the political party that received the most votes”.

The report also praised the efforts of various civil society organizations during the elections in observing the voting process; efforts which the Mission believes “increase the transparency and favors democratic development”. At the same time, McDowell described “the low presence of witnesses from the parties and political movements in the electoral process as guarantors of the transparency and trustworthiness of the system”.

The Mission also reported “that having eliminated the voter’s signature and fingerprint on Voter Registration Form E-11 at the polling station, the means of certainty to prevent voter migration and forgery was also reduced”. On the other hand, it saw as a good decision “the pilot test of the use of biometric fingerprinting, which could mitigate these electoral crimes in future elections”.

On the subject of vote counting, McDowell highlighted “the efficiency of the voting officials, which allowed citizens to find out the results of the election in a timely manner, which breeds confidence and certainty in the system”.

The report also mentioned among its recommendations the need for “a fundamental review of the structure of the electoral institutions and the powers of the responsible bodies”; “a diagnosis of the outsourcing of several phases in the process of electoral organization”; “the adaptation of the system of campaign finances”; “the establishment of guidelines concerning electoral polls”; “an improvement in the implementation of biometric registration”; and “the establishment of a system of management of information security”.

The Electoral Oversight Mission was made up of 59 international observers from 17 OAS Member States and from three observer countries. More than 17.4 million Colombians voted in the elections, with 57% of those eligible to vote participating.

Carlos Iván Plazas, Colombian Alternate Representative to the OAS, thanked the Mission for its work, and said his government “will continue working on actions, strategies and proposals designed to improve the elements relevant to future elections”.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-106/12