The Buenos Aires province Electoral Board announced on Thursday that Julio Alak (Unión por la Patria, UxP) was the new mayor of La Plata, beating current mayor Julio Garro (Juntos por el Cambio, JxC) by only 606 votes. Alak’s tight election win on October 22 had been on hold after Garro requested the judiciary that 79 ballot boxs be reopened and its votes be recounted on the grounds of what he called “inconsistencies.” The provisional count had ended with Alak ahead of Garro by slightly less then 900 votes.
“In light of the results obtained, there has been no juridically relevant modification of the matter at hand,” the Electoral Board said in its statement. Although the recount ended with 300 more votes for the incumbent Garro, he still ended up behind Alak in the final tally. Garro’s request that an additional 1,574 ballot boxes be reopened following Thursday’s recount was rejected by the judiciary.
“The deadline to present claims regarding the final vote tally ended October 31 at 6 p.m.,” reads the statement, which was signed by judges Roberto Lemos Arias, Sergio Torres and Alejo Ramos Padilla. Beyond the fact that the deadline for any further claims had already passed, the judges said that reopening the entirety of the ballot boxes requested by JxC “distorts” the electoral process, placing its transparency in question and “indefinitely extending the end of the final tally.”
Regarding the “inconsistencies” that JxC pointed to, the judiciary said that documentation for all ballot boxes was in order and that any missing ballots were due to honest mistakes.
“The absence of ballots within a ballot box is a matter the National Electoral Chamber has been dealing with for the past 30 years and has already set valid precedent for,” the judges said, adding that it is standard practice to establish that if a ballot box has been signed off on by voting authorities and party observers, it is considered valid even if some votes are missing.
Although the judiciary’s decision ends the reconts and confirms Alak as the new mayor of La Plata, Garro and JxC announced they would appeal to the National Electoral Chamber. It remains to be seen if they hear the merits of the claim or reject it and let the BA’s judiciary ruling stand.
– with information from Télam