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Supreme Elections Tribunal denies that presidential election runoff ballots were stolen

April 8, 2014

A member of the Supreme Elections Tribunal said that pictures appearing in a Diario Extra report are not of original ballots that would be used in the runoff presidential election scheduled for April 6. Héctor Fernández, director of the electoral registry, made the declarations Monday.

On Saturday night an unidentified person sent an envelope containing three supposedly original ballots and a letter claiming “many others like these are currently circulating throughout the country,” Diario Extra reporter Luis Zárate told The Tico Times.

Zárate said the ballots appeared to resemble the original ones as described by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

The registry numbers on them indicate they belong to polling center number 4,716, which corresponds to Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste, according to TSE records.

But Fernández said TSE officials  checked the bags containing the ballots at that polling center and all the ballots “are intact, therefore it looks like a counterfeit case.”

Fernández stressed that all 3.8 million official ballots are stored under high security and that none are missing.

“At this time I cannot confirm whether they used a photograph of an actual ballot or if they used a printed test ballot that should have been destroyed before starting the actual printing process,” he said.

“We can not yet confirm if the ballot’s design was leaked. We currently are collecting evidence to file a complaint with the Judicial Investigation Police as this is clearly a criminal offense,” he stated.

The TSE will provide to investigators videos of the printing process. The whole process was filmed by 32 cameras placed inside the facility of the printing press company.

National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya would not comment on the issue, “as he is no longer taking part in the campaign” said Fernando Fernández one of Araya’s press advisers. Araya last week announced he will stop campaigning for the runoff election due to a lack of financial resources and as a result of polls showing him trailing Citizen Action Party’s candidate Luis Guillermo Solís by a large margin.

Solís briefly addressed the issue, saying he hoped TSE conducts a serious investigation since “these accusations should not be taken lightly.” Before taking a trip to the country’s northern region to resume his campaign, Solís said he has total confidence in the voting process conducted by TSE.

Fernández said the TSE is considering adding new security features on the ballots to decrease the chances that counterfeit bill could pass as the real thing.

They also will instruct polling center members on better surveillance for Election Day in order to detect any attempt to cast a counterfeit ballot.

“This measure obviously will increase election costs but we must guarantee the people that the voting process will be fraud-proof,” Fernández said.

Presidential runoff ballot
TSE officials are currently investigating how the designs of both the front and back of the runoff election ballots were leaked. Partial design sample provided by TSE (Alberto Font/The Tico Times)

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