BUENOS AIRES – Voters are heading to the polls on Sunday in Argentina, where the presidency, congressional seats and governorships are up for grabs.
Polling places opened at 8:00 a.m. in the South American nation, with 32 million people eligible to cast ballots in the race to succeed President Cristina Fernandez, as well as for half of the members of the lower house of Congress, one-third of the Senate, 11 governors and the members of the Mercosur parliament.
The 62-year-old Fernandez, a Peronist who has been in office for eight years, is barred by the constitution from running for the presidency again until 2019.
Ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli is the favorite, according to the latest poll results, followed by conservative Mauricio Macri and dissident Peronist Sergio Massa.
Progressive Margarita Stolbizer, former President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa and the Leftist Front’s Nicolas del Caño are also running for the country’s highest office.
Polls conducted ahead of the election showed that no candidate had enough support to win outright on Sunday, likely leading to the first run-off election in Argentina’s history on Nov. 22.
More than 100,000 security forces members have been deployed across Argentina to maintain order on election day.
The opposition has deployed thousands of people to monitor polling places in the wake of allegations of irregularities in the elections held over the past few months in different provinces.
The national elections office has taken measures, including tighter controls at polling places, monitoring of trucks carrying voting materials with GPS and maintaining copies of election identification cards in triplicate, to ensure transparency.
Polling places are scheduled to close at 6:00 p.m., with initial results expected about six hours later.