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M.I.T. Researchers Forged Doubt on Bolivian Election Fraud

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Era have forged doubt on a declare that Bolivian officers engaged in fraud to assist Evo Morales, the longtime president, win re-election.

The researchers, whilst now not definitively ruling out the potential for any fraud, waded right into a fierce home and world debate over Mr. Morales’s legitimacy. The rustic’s first Indigenous president, he used to be a historical however contentious determine, pressured out in November after violent protests and accusations that his allies had rigged the election.

“The statistical proof does now not toughen the declare of fraud,” the researchers, John Curiel and Jack R. Williams, wrote in The Washington Put up. Their paintings used to be commissioned via a bunch referred to as the Middle for Financial and Coverage Analysis, which has been supportive of left-leaning governments in South The usa.

Mr. Curiel and Mr. Williams, from M.I.T.’s Election Information and Science Lab, stated they had been shriveled to habits an impartial research.

Their evaluate met with scathing grievance from the Group of American States, which performed an preliminary audit in past due 2019 that discovered Bolivian officers had engaged in lies, manipulation and forgery to verify Mr. Morales’s victory.

The O.A.S. stated it stood via its findings.

“It defies all good judgment that folks that hang themselves out as ‘scientists’ and ‘experts in election integrity’ would interact in such wrong research,” wrote Gonzalo Koncke, an O.A.S. legitimate, in a letter to The Put up.

The researchers’ paintings didn’t deal with most of the allegations discussed within the O.A.S. file, together with the accusation that Bolivian officers maintained hidden servers that may have authorised the alteration of effects.

As a substitute, the researchers tested one allegation made via O.A.S. auditors: that variations in effects reported prior to and after a pause within the preliminary vote depend pointed to proof of fraud in want of Mr. Morales.

O.A.S. officers referred to as a surprising alternate within the balloting pattern in Mr. Morales’s want “statistically not likely.”

However the researchers concluded that this sort of alternate used to be totally believable. “There does now not appear to be a statistically important distinction within the margin prior to and after the halt of the initial vote,” they wrote.

They identified that balloting traits frequently shift as votes are counted. In the USA, for instance, votes that are available after Election Day have a tendency to want Democratic applicants.

The fraud claims were central to a debate about whether or not Mr. Morales will have to have the ability to go back to political existence in Bolivia — and whether or not his birthday party, Motion Towards Socialism, will have to get every other shot at nationwide management.

In early Might, Bolivians will vote once more for a brand new president. Mr. Morales can’t run; he’s in exile in Argentina and faces felony fees at house. However his candidate, Luis Arce, is main within the polls.

In an e-mail, Mr. Curiel referred to as for additional research of the fraud claims, noting that the O.A.S. got here to its conclusions “on a handy guide a rough turnaround,” simply days after the election.

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