Analysis of the 2019 Bolivia Election

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On October 20, 2019, Bolivia held its third general election under its 2009 constitution. Nine presidential candidates competed inthe presidential election, but early polling indicated a likely two-way race between President Evo Morales of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS-IPSP) and former president Carlos Mesa of Comunidad Ciudadana (CC).


Onthe day of the election, the unofficial,preliminarycount (trep) stopped at 7:40 PM, with only around 84% of the tally sheets (actas) that would be counted in the official count (computo) counted. On October 21 at 18:29, after the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Bolivia requested a resumption of the trep, electoral officials announced updated results with 95 percent of actas processed. Morales’ margin in the updated results exceeded 10 percentage points. The OAS released a statement expressing concern about a “change in the trend” between results before and after the stopping of the trep on October 20.


In the final tally of the computo, Morales’s margin of victory would rise to 10.56 percentage points over CC candidate Mesa. Bolivian presidential elections require a 10 percentage point lead over the runner-up, and the change in the margin of victory in favor of Morales following the trep interruption was characterized as surprising and of “deep concern” by the OAS, thereby creating the impression that fraud in favor of MAS-IPSP had likely taken place.


We find that Morales’s victory can be explained by his voter support before the preliminary vote count halted. Through three analyses of the vote prior to the cutoff at 84% of the vote count, we find the final result can be explained by a pattern in the vote count prior to the cutoff of the trep. Therefore, we cannot find quantitative evidence of an irregular trend as claimed by the OAS.


Read the report below.

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