Argentina 2023 elections: polls close with 76% turnout

In the October elections, 74% of eligible voters cast their ballots

Argentina’s 2023 presidential run-off between Sergio Massa (Unión por la Patria, UxP) and Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) closed on Sunday 6 p.m. with 76% voter turnout, according to the National Electoral Chamber (CNE). This figure is higher than the 74% of voters who participated in the October general elections but lower than 2015’s run-off, where 80.8% of the eligible voters took part. 

First results showed that Milei was winning with 56% of the vote, while Massa had 44% — a 12-point lead with 87% of the vote counted. At around 8 p.m., before the results were formally announced, Sergio Massa took the stage at Unión por la Patria’s campaign house in the Chacarita district, admitting defeat and congratulating Milei.

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The DiNE, which depends on the national government, is in charge of the initial vote count which is meant for information purposes only. The final tally, the only legally binding one, is carried out by the National Electoral Justice and will begin 48 hours after voting ends.

Speaking at 6 p.m., after the polls closed, Presidency Secretary Vitobello also said citizens were still voting in some parts of the country, so final voter turnout would be higher than 76%.

He also thanked the National Electoral Command — a task force of 86,000 agents from different security agencies and the armed forces in charge of monitoring and transporting the ballot boxes and surveilling the voting sites.

“They deployed in an incredible operation,” he said. The official’s remarks come after La Libertad Avanza accused the military police, part of the National Electoral Command, of committing “colossal fraud” in the first round of the elections.

He emphasized that Argentina’s electoral system is transparent, after weeks of fraud accusations by members of LLA, which included accusations against the country’s military police.

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A decisive day

Voting stations opened at 8 a.m. and the day proceeded with some incidents. Far-right coalition La Libertad Avanza (LLA) asked the National Electoral Court to declare ballots printed for the primaries valid for Sunday’s run-off, arguing that people outside the coalition had placed old ballots from August 13 in some polling stations.

LLA’s legal representative Santiago Viola told the Herald that the coalition received reports of ballots from the primaries appearing in polling stations in “around four to six schools in Buenos Aires province and three schools in Chaco.”

President Alberto Fernández, former president Mauricio Macri, and Buenos Aires province Governor Axel Kicillof all voted before noon. While Fernández said he wished for Argentina to “continue living in democracy,” Macri called this election “an inflection point.”

Kicillof called on people to vote “thinking about the future.” 

Since no candidate met the requirements to win the October 22 general election outright — more than 45% of the votes or 40% with a 10-point lead over the second-placed — the Constitution mandates that the two most-voted go to a run-off. In this case, Sergio Massa and Javier Milei.

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