Supreme Elections Tribunal increases security measures for Sunday’s runoff

April 8, 2014

Some 88,000 people will be charged with supervising Sunday’s runoff election in which Ticos will choose Costa Rica’s next president for 2014-2018.

That figure represents an increase of 4,000 people compared to the first-round Feb. 2 election, Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) President Luis Antonio Sobrado said on Friday.

Most are voluntary staff in charge of monitoring polling stations, following accusations of ballot theft by a security officer last month.

Sunday’s vote also will be monitored by 180 national observers from nongovernmental organizations, universities and other local groups, as well as 102 international observers from 14 countries.

Josefina Vásquez Mota, a member of the Organization of American States and head of the international observers group, said she is satisfied with the security measures adopted by the TSE, as well as the tribunal’s efforts to implement OAS recommendations following February’s vote.

The first recommendation addresses the transparency of polls released during the first-round campaign, which prompted the TSE to order polling companies to fully disclose survey methodology. That information is available on the TSE’s website.

Observers also recommended legal amendments that would facilitate gender parity in access to public posts, which already is being considered by a bill in the Legislative Assembly.

Vásquez added that observers praised the level of citizen participation in Costa Rica on Election Day, “including children who helped people find polling centers.”

The TSE’s new security measures include better ballots, details of which “are kept secret,” Sobrado said.

Some changes are noticeable, including a hole in the center of the ballot that is cropped in a certain pattern. Ballots also display a security pattern printed irregularly on either the top or bottom according to provisions known only by TSE officials.

A total of 3,078,321 Ticos, including more than 12,000 Costa Ricans registered to vote from abroad, will choose Sunday between Citizen Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís and ruling National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya. Araya in March opted to stop campaigning, but will be on the ballot.

The first preliminary results will be announced by the TSE at 8 p.m. on April 6.

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