Carter Center Releases Final Report on 2020 Bolivian General Elections

(En español)

ATLANTA (June 14, 2021) — The Carter Center today released the final report from its electoral expert team on Bolivia’s Oct. 18, 2020, general elections. The report commends the work of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, known by its Spanish acronym, TSE, for conducting a complex election process with independence, impartiality, and transparency, paving the way to return to the constitutional framework. The report also highlights the record participation and intense competition, which happened despite the political tensions and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tribunal’s task was particularly challenging: It had to organize elections in a short timeframe with new personnel and with a significant part of its infrastructure demolished—all in the context of extreme political polarization. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted onto this delicate scene, prompting the TSE to twice postpone the elections. The tribunal sought consensus between the legislative and executive branches before making these postponements, an approach that enabled the unanimous approval of three postponement laws. Setting an election date of Oct. 18 helped protect the health of Bolivian citizens while also complying with the Constitutional Court’s ruling that newly elected authorities be sworn in by the end of the year.

The Carter Center’s three-person electoral expert team focused its analysis on the legal framework for elections and on the election administration’s degree of independence, impartiality, transparency, and technical efficiency. It also examined respect for political participation rights and freedom of the press―particularly in the context of the pandemic—and provided a limited assessment of the results aggregation process.

Because of the limited size and scope of the electoral expert team, which did not include long-term or short-term observers, it was not able to observe the campaign or conduct firsthand observation of the voting and counting processes, and therefore did not provide an assessment of the overall electoral process.”

The Carter Center also collaborated with Chequea Bolivia to analyze online disinformation targeting the electoral process and monitored political advertising on social media during the three months prior to election day. The Center’s analysis noted a limited use of paid political advertising on social media, and conversely, a proliferation of disinformation aimed at eroding the reputations of candidates and the electoral tribunal.

The electoral expert team assessed the Bolivian electoral process based on the national legal framework and the principles and commitments on democratic elections enshrined in the regional and international instruments that Bolivia has ratified. On the basis of this analysis and evaluation, The Carter Center respectfully offers a set of recommendations aimed at improving certain aspects of electoral processes. Some seek to ensure that Bolivian election processes are aligned with international principles and commitments, while others aim to strengthen efficient implementation.

Some of the main recommendations in the Center’s final report are:

  1. Limitations on the right to stand. Priority should be given to replacing the sanction that provides for the cancellation of a political party’s legal status, currently provided for by articles 136.III of the LRE and 58.1(k) of the Law on Political Organizations (LOP, Law 1096 of Sept. 1, 2018), with sanctions that are more proportionate to offenses and that do not jeopardize political pluralism.
  2. Campaign finance. Electoral legislation does not establish campaign spending limits, except for spending on political advertising in the media, which can lead to great inequalities in resources for competing parties. Bolivia should consider establishing limits for all campaign spending, not just political advertising in the media, to help level the playing field for political competitors.
  3. Results publication. Given the reliability and transparency of the official results aggregation process, and the significant difficulties in ensuring that the preliminary results system is sufficiently representative of the elections results, the TSE should consider abandoning the preliminary results system and instead rely from the outset on the official results system provided for by law, at least until a more financially feasible, fully representative, and realistically implementable system is found.
  4. Out-of-country voting. The electoral tribunal should consider creating social media channels and dedicating a part of its website exclusively for voters living abroad, to facilitate communication of important election information on topics such as voter registration and voting centers.
  5. Social media and disinformation. The TSE should reach agreements with the leading social networks to provide access to their systems so that the entities authorized by the tribunal can monitor content, as is done with traditional media. The TSE also could reach agreements with the leading social networks to enable mechanisms for reporting suspicious activity to the tribunal, facilitating rapid responses.
  6. Political advertising on social media. Some provisions of Bolivian law that already apply to traditional media should be made more explicitly applicable to social networks. This should include the requirement that rates charged for electoral advertising be the same for all parties, which would help level the campaign playing field.

Final Report | Analyzing Bolivia’s 2020 General Elections (PDF)


El Centro Carter Publica Informe Final sobre las Elecciones Generales Bolivianas de 2020 (PDF)

Informe Final | Análisis de las elecciones generales bolivianas de 2020 (PDF) 


Contact: Soyia Ellison, associate communications director,

The Carter Center

Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.