For the Pew Research Center, the low democratic participation abroad is due to the fear of being exposed to immigration authorities and for being forgotten by its nationals
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the vote abroad is called consular suffrage and is characterized for being issued in the consular offices of the country that celebrates its democratic party. In addition, in a report of the UNDP and the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE, by its acronym in Spanish) of 2016 titled Electoral Studies in International Perspective, democracy is conceived as the common factor of multiparty elections and where universal suffrage exists.
Leer en español: ¿Los latinos en el exterior no votan en las elecciones?
Currently, a total of 112 countries allow foreign voting for their nationals. However, there are very few countries that allow voting in multiple elections. That, for the most part, voting is only allowed for national issues: presidential election, referendum, popular consultation. In the Latin American case, although it is a relatively new custom, its propagation has taken giant steps in the last decade.
Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela are the only countries in the region that guarantee the vote to their nationals abroad. Colombia is a pioneer in the measure since 1961 and Guatemala will use it for the first time in 2019.
How much participation is there in the elections on the part of the Latin Americans abroad?
For the elections of July 1 in Mexico, only in the case of the United States were more than 152,000 Mexicans registered. This is an unprecedented figure but compared to the total number of Mexicans who could register to vote, it only represents 1% of them. This is because, according to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico (SER, by its acronym in Spanish), there are more than 11.7 million Mexicans in the United States.
For the Pew Research Center, the low turnout is due to the false idea that by registering in the voting they are exposing themselves to the U.S. immigration authorities, because the registration requires an address and many of the Mexicans lack legal documentation. The panorama in Europe is not better, because there only 8% of Mexicans registered for the next elections, according to the SER.
In the case of the elections in Colombia, it is estimated that there is a little more than 4.3 million Colombians abroad, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE, by its acronym in Spanish) for 2017. However, in the 2018 presidential election, only 819,000 of them were registered to vote. Although compared to the 2014 elections, the increase was 39%, this is still a low turnout.
You can also read: 5 Latin American countries do not have a second round of elections
For the Colombian chancellery, the increase in the participation is due to the interest in the country and the improvement of the image that has taken place in the world. Colombia is also the only country that allows the participation of Colombians abroad for parliamentary elections since 1961.
In the case of Venezuela, only 111,000 Venezuelans were able to vote abroad. This is due to the organic law of electoral processes approved in 2009 that requires, aside from the identity card, the current passport, the birth certificate and the documentation required to prove permanent residence in the country where it is located. According to an investigation by the Diario Las Américas, of the 125 consular representations of Venezuela in the world, 4% allow the registration of nationals for electoral processes, which limits the participation abroad.
For its part, Costa Rica had a census of 32,000 nationals eligible to vote in the presidential elections of 2018. However, the call of the national government was not addressed with vehemence, since only 34% went to vote, according to the Supreme Court of Elections.
On the other hand, Guatemala regulated the consular vote in 2017 and will finally apply the measure in the 2019 elections. Likewise, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru have a track record to highlight for the consular vote. However, its participation does not exceed the 50% threshold. For the Pew Research Center, in the case of the United States, low participation also derives from the desire to leave the country of origin behind.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Translated from "¿Los latinos en el exterior no votan en las elecciones?"