Bolivia’s Inflated Electoral Participation Is a Fraud

EspañolRecently, the register of eligible voters for October’s national elections became known. It affirms that 6.5 million people have successfully registered, including Bolivians residing abroad.

This information makes evident, even for those unfamiliar with statistics, that an electoral fraud of great proportions is on the way. Merely compare this one to previous elections, and to the population and housing census of 2012, to understand why.

Back in 1993, 2.39 million people registered to vote, and abstention was 27.84 percent. In 2002, 4.15 million registered, with 27.94 percent abstention.

For the 2005 elections — when Evo Morales’s Movement towards Socialism (MAS) won — 3.67 million people registered, and 15.49 percent of those individuals did not vote.

bolivia elecciones
Abstention has reached unbelievably low levels in the last few years. (Ibero-American Institute)

Up until 2002, voter registration gradually increased in proportion to demographic growth in the country, as would be expected. Despite more registered voters, the index of abstention remained at 27-28 percent for the 1993, 1997, and 2002 elections, mostly due to the traditional and cultural indifference towards politics in the country.

By 2005 and the intense MAS campaign — which obtained support from various social-justice movements, trade unions, and indigenous communities — the rate of abstention plunged from 27-28 percent to 15.49 percent, almost half that of previous elections.

By 2009, Morales was in power and enjoying the evident affinity of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Bolivians were surprised once again by an event never seen before: 5.13 million registered voters, up from 3.67 million, and minuscule voter abstention of 5.45 percent.

Today, as we near the 2014 elections, there is a voter registration of 6.5 million, which — according to the population and housing census of 2012 — represents 95 percent of the eligible population over 18 years old. Startlingly, an even lower rate of abstention than that of 2009 is expected, meaning that almost every single Bolivians over 18 will vote.

If one scrutinizes the data, it becomes observable that, with MAS in power, voter registration has increased like never before in the history of Bolivia. There are no clear explanations for this increase, along with the sharp drop in abstention, other than a ruse devised by the current regime.

Culturally, Bolivians have never had a prominent interest in democracy, even less so in the last 10 years. For the majority of those in rural areas and those on low incomes, to vote represents a great effort: traveling to the electoral precinct away from their small villages, and perhaps not working for an entire day.

On the other hand, in the city, many prefer to stay at home and rest, even more so if we take young Bolivians into account. They nurture great indifference towards politics, even if they represent a substantial portion of the electorate.

Even if voting is mandatory on paper, it is unenforced and does not account for the astoundingly low rate of abstention. The confirmation certificates given to voters have little importance to the majority of Bolivians, especially to the young. The banking and administrative procedures, which may require the certificates, are privileges to which not even half of Bolivians have access to.

It should not be forgotten too that registered Bolivians who live abroad and represent more than one million voters do not have strong motivations to exercise their right to vote on election day.

These factors together make it beyond unlikely that over 95 percent of Bolivians will make their way to the polls this October. Rather, the level of electoral fraud and manipulation has been unruly since 2005, and it remains sky-high.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal is so closely tied to the regime that the executive branch makes all decisions pertaining to the organization, the electoral process, and appointments, in accordance with their own interests and without consulting with Bolivians. In the last election, poll boxes containing votes were lost, deceased people made their way to the polls, and many individuals managed to vote more than once, among other compromising acts.

Evo Morales, with the support of his party faithful, is determined to do whatever it takes in these elections to obtain two thirds of the representativeness in the congress and 70 percent support on his own vote. This would allow him to change the constitution (again), obtain indefinite reelection, and seize Bolivia.

Translated by Pablo Schollaert.

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