Guatemala Elections Hit by Fraud, Ballot Burning

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Allegations of electoral fraud and illegal campaigning are being investigated as Guatemala counts the votes cast in Sunday’s presidential election, with rightist Otto Perez in the lead.

With 80 percent of ballots counted, former General Otto Perez of the Partido Patriota leads his closest rival, Manuel Baldizon of the Lider party, by at least 15 percentage points. A November run-off election is set to take place, as no candidate has the 50 percent needed for an outright win.

Observers from the non-profit electoral watchdog, Mirador Electoral, reported cases 65 incidents of voting irregularities, including illegal campaigning in Guatemala’s capital, as well as attempted vote buying in several sites across the country. The Mission of International Observers from the Latin and Caribbean Network for Democracy (Mision de Observadores Internacionales de la Red Latina y el Caribe para la Democracia) reported intimidation of voters in some areas.

A number of election irregularities were discovered in the western department of Solola, where dozens of voters were prevented from voting because their voter identication cards did not match registered data.

Also in Solola, representatives from Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) were held by a group of local people upon their arrival to the indigenous community of Xejuyup. Residents alleged that the TSE employees were attempting to subvert the electoral process by submitting falsified ballot papers, but freed the men after the ballots in question had been burned.

See InSight Crime’s map of the threat posed by organized crime to the electoral process in locations across Guatemala.

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