Salvadorans living abroad will vote in 2014 presidential elections


Yesterday afternoon, with the support of all political parties, the Legislative Assembly passed legislation to allow Salvadorans living abroad to vote in all future presidential, legislative, and municipal elections. For 20 years, this community has been demanding their constitutional right to vote.

The reform will bring Salvadoran electoral campaigns in full force to communities with large Salvadoran populations, with the larger political parties battling for votes in foreign cities, particularly in the US and Canada where 92% of Salvadorans living outside of the country reside. According to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the institution that administers the country’s elections, there are approximately 200,000 Salvadorans living abroad who are eligible to vote.

They must apply for a national ID card, known as a DUI, and register to vote before October 4th of this year in order to participate in presidential elections in February 2014; ballots will be distributed and cast by mail. The National Registry of Natural Persons (RNPN) has already begun setting up operations in cities in the US with large Salvadoran populations to provide them with ID cards.

The legislation that was finally approved is a combination of proposals presented by the Office of the President and the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party with organizations that represent Salvadorans living abroad. The country’s right-wing parties stalled the process, demanding that the entire absentee voting operational plan, budget and financing be defined first. The FMLN argued that those tasks corresponded to the TSE, and that the legislature’s duty was to assure that Salvadorans living abroad could exercise their constitutional right. FMLN legislator Jackeline Rivera asserted this was not “a favor, but rather a right of all our compatriots.”

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