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 July 5, 2023

Guatemala suspends presidential election results in which 'null' votes outnumber all candidates

Saturday evening, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ordered the country's highest electoral court to provisionally suspend the officialization of the June 25 presidential election and to examine the ballots used in the election.

Ten political parties filed appeals, alleging irregularities in the examination procedure, as Breitbart News reported.

The suspension issued by Guatemala's highest court prevents the adjudication and proclamation of all elected officials until the situation is "clarified," including the country's next president and the top two vote-getters who are eligible for a runoff.

Former first lady Sandra Torres of the center-left National Unity of Hope (UNE) party and leftist interloper Bernardo Arévalo of the Semilla Movement party will face off in a runoff presidential election on August 20.

All pre-election polls predicted that Arévalo would not receive more than three percent of the vote in the first round, so his performance was deemed surprising. It also eliminated all conservative and right-wing presidential candidates.

Additionally, the election was distinguished by a large number of "null" ballots that exceeded the total for any candidate. According to the nation's electoral law, the "null" ballots were not assigned to any candidate because the voter's intent could not be determined from the ballot.

The current ruling Let's Go for a Different Guatemala (VAMOS) party, along with the front-runner UNE party and eight other parties, filed an appeal with the highest Guatemalan court challenging the results of the presidential election.

In their appeal to the Constitutional Court, the parties asserted that there is a "risk and imminent threat" that elected positions could be granted without the electoral board authorities being "aware of the defects" allegedly present in the handwritten and digital certificates of the electoral results.

The Constitutional Court issued an injunction to the ten parties and ordered the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to examine the ballots and scrutiny hearings for the election. The Constitutional Court expressed its hope that its decision "guarantees the democratic will" of Guatemala's citizens, assuring that the decision to suspend election results was made to ensure "the purity of the electoral process and that the republican, democratic, and representative system is not undermined."

The Court noted that electoral deadlines must be "strictly observed" regardless of the ruling in order to ensure the alternation of power. According to the country's constitution, a new presidential term must commence on January 14, 2024. Therefore, the Constitutional Court ordered the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to ensure that all issues are resolved prior to the forthcoming presidential runoff election on August 20.

The Constitutional Court ruled that if evidence emerges that election results were altered, the respective Electoral Boards must issue the necessary corrections or determine whether a full recount or annulment of the results is required.

Arévalo and the Semilla party petitioned the Constitutional Court on Sunday to rescind the granted appeal, contending that the Court lacked the authority to do so and that the Supreme Court of Justice should have heard the case. Arévalo characterized the "ambiguous" and "opaque" appeal as lacking legal merit and threatening to the electoral process.

On Sunday, Arévalo stated “National and international observers have identified that the elections in Guatemala took place peacefully and with integrity and that they consider that the excessive judicialization of this process risks not only the electoral process, but also the nature of democracy itself in Guatemala."

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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