Abstention wins Colombia’s 2014 congressional elections

posted by Mimi Yagoub
Abstention wins Colombia’s 2014 congressional elections
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Colombia’s 2014 congressional elections were marked by not only a relatively peaceful day of voting, but by a high number of  blank and invalid votes.

Of the 32.835,856 Colombians that were eligible to vote on Sunday, 58.11% or over 19 million people, remained absent.

Despite the negative implications of such voter apathy or protest, the number of voters actually went up by over one-million people, from 13,203,762  to 14,310,367, with the percentage of absenteeism rising only slightly, by roughly 0.62%.

Blank vote turned out to be more popular this year than in 2010, winning over 6.2% of Senate and over 6.6% of House votes at the time of writing.

The number of ballots reportedly left unmarked, without the blank vote section filled in, reached 5.85% in Senate and 3.4% in House.

Had these votes been marked “blank” rather than left incomplete, the total amount of blank votes would have amounted to over 12% of Senate votes and 10% of House votes, winning fifth place and fourth place respectively.

The complicated balloting sheet may also be responsible for a notably high number of null votes – ballots which were marked incorrectly and considered invalid.

An average of 11% of votes nationwide were binned, with the state of Cundinamarca – in which the Colombian capital is based – counting seven of the top 10 municipalities for null votes.

The top three municipalities reported over 18% of votes – almost a fifth of all those cast — as being invalid.

For Senate, more than 2 million of all votes cast – over 16 % — were worthless, either because they were left unmarked or because they were marked irregularly. Figures were only slightly lower for the House of Representatives, with over 15% unusable.


About the author


Mimi Yagoub is a French and Spanish undergrad student at Cambridge University, UK, where she specializes in Latin American literature. As a journalist she covers topics ranging from social issues and politics to travel and culture. She previously worked as a reporter in Santiago, Chile.

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