Costa Ricans head to polls for presidential runoff vote

San Jose, Apr 3 (EFE).- On Sunday morning, Costa Ricans are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in the presidential runoff election and election day is progressing calmly and without any serious incidents, the Supreme Election Court (TSE) said in its first report of the day.

TSE president Eugenia Zamora said at a press conference that “all precincts across the length and breadth of the country have opened” and she issued a call to the 3.5 million registered voters to head to the polls to exercise their right to vote.

Facing off in the presidential runoff are former President Jose Maria Figueres, with the National Liberation Party and who governed from (1994-1998) and economist and former Finance Minister Rodrigo Chaves, with the Social Democratic Progress Party.

The precincts opened at 6 am and will remain so for 12 hours, with the TSE expected to provide the initial results of the vote count at 8 pm after a significant percentage of the precincts have been tabulated.

So far on Sunday, seven voting centers for Costa Ricans located in Australia and other Asian countries have closed, while the last one to close during election day will be the one at the country’s consulate in Los Angeles, California.

The early hours of election day in the Central American country have transpired calmly and, so far, long lines at the polling places have not been reported.

The only incidents reported by the TSE so far have been messages on the social networks spreading fake news about the election process and alleged threats made to party poll-watchers via text messages.

Meanwhile, Chaves, 60, went to his precinct in San Jose to vote and predicted a “landslide” victory for himself, saying that “If the people go out and vote this is going to be a landslide, a tsunami.”

He issued a call to the public to vote “for our democracy” as an “offering of love for our homeland,” adding – as has been his campaign theme during the run-up to the vote – that he intends to combat “waste and corruption.”

During the first electoral round on Feb. 6, in which a record 25 presidential candidates participated, voter abstention was an unprecedented 40 percent.

The TSE, the parties, communications media outlets and even international organizations have issued calls to the public to turn out massively to vote.

For the runoff, authorities eased the health measures put in place to battle the spread of Covid-19, and thus the political parties are being allowed to use spaces located outside the polling places to place awnings and to station election guides to help elderly voters and those with disabilities.

The 1.8-meter (6 feet) social distancing requirement was eliminated for the election, along with the obligatory washing of hands, but people are still being required to wear facemasks, given that the pandemic has not been entirely snuffed out.

EFE dmm/eat/bp

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