The president of Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE), Luis Antonio Sobrado, on Monday said the tribunal has denied a request from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) to reprint more than 3 million ballots for the presidential runoff election scheduled for April 6. Sobrado said it would be impossible to reprint the ballots in time for the runoff.
Sobrado made the comments during a ceremony to accredit new members of the Legislative Assembly, who take office on May 1. All but one of the 57 incoming lawmakers attended Monday morning’s ceremony. National Liberation Party (PLN) lawmaker-elect and former Ombudswoman Sandra Pisk is out of the country.
Sobrado said the ballots already are printed, and the TSE is stepping up its security protocols to guarantee the “purity of the voting process.” Those actions follow a story last week by Diario Extra in which the newspaper said it had received stolen ballots from an anonymous source.
In a follow-up investigation, the TSE last Friday said it suspended one of its security employees for allegedly stealing “a few” ballots from the printing company. That case is currently under investigation by the Judicial Investigation Police.
“Whoever thinks they can change election results by stealing ballots is wrong. While the incident is serious, the sanctity of the vote is not at risk,” Sobrado said.
He said the TSE would add an additional security mark on ballots, and the two parties with candidates in the runoff would be allowed to increase their numbers of polling monitors.
Costa Rica’s incoming lawmakers will be sworn in on May 1 and will then proceed to elect the first directorate for the 2014-2015 legislative period. During the first part of the opening session of the full Assembly, the directorate will be chaired by PLN lawmaker Rolando González, according to a provision set by TSE justices.
Although PAC won the majority of votes for president during the Feb. 2 election, the PLN won more legislative seats – 18 – while the PAC won 13.
PLN presidential candidate Johnny Araya, the former mayor of San José, said recently he would ask his party’s lawmakers to vote for PAC candidates for the Assembly’s directorate.
Other parties that will join the next Assembly are the Broad Front Party, with nine lawmakers, the Social Christian Unity Party, with eight, the Libertarian Movement Party, with four, and the Costa Rican Renovation Party, with two.
Before taking their seats the new legislators will attend a training course on legislative procedures on April 28, Sobrado said.