Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) officials on Tuesday began opening the bags containing all ballots from the presidential election last Sunday. Their task: a one-by-one counting of votes.
Costa Rica’s legislation stipulates that when the difference in votes between the two leading candidates does not exceed 2 percent, the TSE must conduct a manual count of every ballot.
According to the latest TSE report on Monday, Citizens Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís had 30.95 percent of the votes, while the candidate of the ruling National Liberation Party Johnny Araya got 29.59 percent. These figures include the votes from 90 percent of polling centers.
The results also indicate that a second round of voting must be held April 6th, as neither of the top candidates got 40 percent of votes (the minimum to be declared the winner).
A total of 212 TSE officials are now distributing the ballots from 6,515 polling centers along five long tables for counting them.
Members of parties registered for the presidential election also are present in the room as observers. Each party is permitted to appoint up to five observers and five replacements.
TSE Electoral Registry director Héctor Fernández confirmed that almost all of the bags are already at their facilities, and that they only are waiting for the arrival of those from New York and Atlanta, whose transfer was delayed by weather problems in the U.S.
Bags from some indigenous areas and Cocos Island were also being transported Tuesday and should arrive shortly, Fernández confirmed. On Monday, a helicopter transporting ballots from an indigenous region in the province of Cartago crashed after experiencing a malfunction in its tail rotor upon takeoff. None of the three occupants were harmed.
A Monday report from TSE also stated that behind Solís and Araya, Broad Front candidate José María Villalta was third with 17.14 percent, and Libertarian Otto Guevara got 11.19 percent.
Manual counting of ballots does not included those for Legislative Assembly seats, except in cases were errors are detected.
“Usual errors take place, for example, when the number of votes reported does not match the number of ballots, but we also will recount those ballots from polling centers where a party filed a complaint,” Fernández added.
Once the review is completed, the TSE will announce the official distribution of Legislative Assembly seats for each party, according to a series of mathematical formulas that take into account the number of inhabitants of each province and the number of votes cast.
Manual counting of ballots for president must be completed within 30 days of the election.