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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

Last week I discussed the issue of Colombian ballots and noted the fact that voters have the right to check a box entitled voto en blanco which literally translated as “blank vote” or more accurately as “none of the above.”  The average of such votes for Senate elections from 1974-2010, for example, has been 2.58% (as a percentage of all ballots cast).  As such, the historic significance of the voto en blanco has been nothing more than a footnote.

However, in the election for the indigenous set-aside seat for the lower house of Congress, this may not be the case.  Vote Bien is reporting (Elecciones de representante indígena deben repetirse) that the voto en blanco may have won the absolute majority of the votes for the seat, which will obligate the National Electoral Council (CNE) to toss out the candidates who ran and hold new elections with new candidates for the seat.

The story reports that according to the latest bulletin from the National Registry 205,442 valid votes were cast for the seat, and 111,573 were en blanco or 54.3%.

No decision has been made, but once the results are finalized the CNE will meet to determine if a re-vote will take place.

According to the story this happened once before, in a mayoral election in 2003 and the CNE ordered new elections with new candidates.

There is no indication when such an election would take place, although the logical time would be during the presidential elections in May.  However, there is a major problem here, insofar as voting for the indigenous seat is a choice voters make in lieu of voting for representatives from the voter’s Department.  As such, if a new election is held it will have to be open up to all voters (including those who chose to vote for their departmental representation, or for the afro-colombian seat for that matter,  instead of for the indigenous seat), radically changing the nature of the electorate for the seat in question between the two processes.

An example of a Chamber of Representatives ballot is below.  Note that Part C is the indigenous seat and there are a rather large (to understate the situation quite a bit) number of competitors for the seat, meaning not only did a lot of people vote en blanco but that the votes for candidates was quite fragmented.

2010 Bogota

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5 Responses to “Redo Election in Colombia? (“None of the Above” Wins Indigenous Seat)”

  1. MSS Says:

    Wow, there is something that clearly was not thought through when the original ballot was designed!

    (However this turns out, it would make a great little article for the Election Law Journal)

  2. Steven L. Taylor Says:

    There are a number of issues about the ballot that need addressing.

    And I actually had no idea that the “none of the above” option could actually result in “none of the above” winning-but of course, it never really occurred since the blank vote rates were normally so low.

  3. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Votos en Blanco (Colombia) Says:

    [...] However, unlike what may happen in the indigenous set-aside seat where voto en blanco appears to have won an absolute majority, the Andean Parliament results will stand. More than just votos en blancos, the real winner in that [...]

  4. Fruits and Votes » Prof. Shugart's Blog » Redo Election in Colombia? (“None of the Above” Wins Indigenous Seat) Says:

    [...] Cross-posted from PoliBlog: [...]

  5. Fruits and Votes » Prof. Shugart's Blog » More on Votos en Blanco (Colombia) Says:

    [...] However, unlike what may happen in the indigenous set-aside seat where voto en blanco appears to have won an absolute majority, the Andean Parliament results will stand. More than just votos en blancos, the real winner in that [...]


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