Chaos In Peru As Voting Centers Fail to Open

Peru has presidential elections today but many have been unable to vote as numerous polling centers are still not operating at full capacity. The problem has mostly affected the capital, Lima, in its central districts. 

Voting was supposed to open at 7am local time, however, by 9:34am, only 80% of voting stations were operational. By 11:35am, 91% were operational. Among those unable to vote was right-wing presidential candidate, Rafael Lopez Aliaga, who arrived at his polling center at 10:52am in the wealthy district of Miraflores, only to find that center was understaffed and therefore not yet open to the public. He waited until 11:23am before leaving without casting his vote.  

The National Office of Electoral Processes say that inner city areas of Lima, such as Surco, San Borja, Miraflores and San Isidro (the last three are the wealthiest areas of the city). Polling centers are largely operated by regular citizens who are selected at random, as a kind of jury duty. Those who are selected are legally obliged to fulfill their duty, which is unpaid, and failure to do so results in a fine of 220 Soles ($60 USD). Despite the fine, many appointed citizens have simply not turned up, resulting in non-operational voting centers. 

To alleviate the problem, citizens who were not selected have volunteered to fulfill the duty instead so that their voting stations can open. The Mayor of the Miraflores district, in which Lopez Aliaga was unable to vote, is among those who have stepped up to ensure voting can take place.

Citizens’ initiatives have sprung up to help coordinate the effort. One Twitter account @MiembrosDeMesa posts about areas which are understaffed, and invites users to volunteer. With these volunteers, electoral authorities have been able to activate some of the stations which didn’t open on time.