One of Guanacaste’s legislative seats remains in dispute. In order to make the official declaration of the results, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE for the Spanish acronym) must decide on the appeal for electoral protection and two lawsuits for annulment filed by the Christian Social Unity Party’s (PUSC for the Spanish acronym) candidate, Bismarck Villegas, according to TSE lawyer Andrei Cambronero.
“The admissibility [of what was filed by Villegas] has to be evaluated and after the result of that admissibility, the path to follow is evaluated,” Cambronero explained. Although there isn’t a specific deadline for this, the lawyer indicated that the TSE is working to decide on it as soon as possible.
The preliminary results of the first round of the elections, issued on February 7, 2022, showed that Villegas had won a seat in Congress along with fellow PUSC candidate Melina Ajoy and National Liberationists Luis Fernando Mendoza and Alejandra Larios. Villegas was ahead of Daniel Vargas from the Social Democratic Progress Party (PPSD for the Spanish acronym) by 58 votes.
However, Vargas edged out Villegas by two votes, according to the definitive final count that the TSE published on its website. In this process, the TSE reviews the electoral documentation that includes the closing act that is attached to the voter registry.
If the processes filed by Villegas proceed, the institution could start a manual recount of the votes in Guanacaste, which would involve opening and counting all of the envelopes where the votes are. Until then, the institution can’t make the official declaration of the election results, which is the last step to confer the credentials to the people elected.
“This resolution happens once the definitive final count of the votes has been issued, but when all the challenges presented have already been resolved. In this case, the TSE couldn’t do so until it decides on the two lawsuits and the appeal for electoral protection presented by Carlos Bismarck,” explained Cambronero, who added that these are the only processes of this kind in the entire country.
Villegas wouldn’t comment on the matter. Instead of him, PUSC assembly member and spokesperson Ana Cristina Valdelomar, did. She believes that a directive should be implemented in the country so that a manual count is done when there is a narrow margin, as in this case.
“We’re very clear that the TSE isn’t doing something wrong, but rather that there are human errors [when counting the votes after the polls close] and this could confirm or see if there is an error and the will of Guanacaste was different,” said Valdelomar. “We’re talking about two votes,” she added.
Vargas, PPSD’s elected candidate, expressed his disagreement with the request.
Opening any additional review process would be calling into question the processes that the TSE established to guarantee the governmental election processes,” he said.
The elected legislator stated that the party filed an appeal asking to dismiss the appeals from the opposing party. Deep down, Vargas also believes that there were inconsistencies in the closing of the polls.
“We’re not afraid of the process. We hope it doesn’t happen, but in the event that it does happen, we know that the difference would widen instead of narrow,” he said, pointing out that his party had valid votes annulled.