Oct.17 - Almost half of Bolivians electing national judges for the first time voted 'void' on their ballots, dealing President Evo Morales his first electoral setback. Simon Hanna reports.
Democracy in action in Bolivia. Residents on Sunday took part in an election to choose their national judges. But unofficial polling results show that almost half the voters cast spoiled ballots, delivering a setback to President Evo Morales. The indigenous leader's traditional base of Indian support appeared to rebuke Morales for his expensive plans to build a highway through the Amazon, and a subsequent crackdown on protesters opposed to the road's construction. One resident said the spoiled ballots represented electoral discontent. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MARIO QUISPE ACHACALLO, LOCAL RESIDENT: "The spoiled ballot is winning. It's proof of the Bolivian people's discontent. Each person has his reasons but this is democracy." The number of invaild ballots was a setback for Morales, but the President praised the high turnout. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EVO MORALES, BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT: "It was a first experience in which, unfortunately, there wasn't enough information, more socialisation. Despite the lack of information, the participation of the Bolivian people was a total success." Preliminary results suggest that as well as almost half of all ballots being spoiled, 40 percent were valid votes and the rest were blank. If official vote tallies confirm these numbers, it would be Morales' first electoral defeat in his nearly six years in office. Simon Hanna, Reuters.