Chile once again approves mandatory voting measure
The Chilean Congress was in charge of making the announcement this Monday.
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Through a constitutional reform, Chilean parliamentarians reinstated the measure that had been annulled in 2012, and that will now be applied in all electoral elections and plebiscites, except in primary elections.
The law, which reactivates compulsory suffrage in Chile, won thanks to a majority election of 124 votes in favor, 6 against, and 3 abstentions, leaving fines and sanctions for those who fail to comply with this duty and the information in charge of a new law on the voters who will be exempt from it.
“Because we believe in a society of rights and duties; and after overcoming obstacles from different political sectors, today we approve and dispatch the replacement of the Compulsory Vote that we began in 2019. We trust that the equal participation of all will strengthen democracy”, wrote the deputy Joanna Pérez on her Twitter account.
Return of measure
After a decade of voluntary voting in the southern country, the return of mandatory voting occurs with some changes that seek to make the measure more radical.
Although in 2012 the measure was mandatory, to make it effective each citizen had to register, voluntarily, before voting, something that will be different with the new law, since voting will be mandatory without prior registration because the electoral roll will include voters starting from the age of 18.
Cámara de Diputadas y Diputados aprueba y despacha a ley el voto obligatorio, proyecto de la diputada Joanna Pérez (Indep.). Desde su promulgación tendrá vigencia en el acto. Quedan pendientes las modificaciones a la ley 18.700 para establecer las sanciones. @24HorasTVN pic.twitter.com/87OQbnLjEY— Poirot Escovedo (@poirotes) December 19, 2022
“We tried the experiment of voluntary voting and we were lowering the participation election after election. I believe that the times that Chile is experiencing are for the opposite,” said congressman Jorge Alessandri, from the conservative Independent Democratic Union (UDI), through DW.
Likewise, the deputy Joanna Pérez, former militant of the Christian Democracy (DC), celebrated the news: "So that all the elections from now on are with a broad participation and no one later backs down from what the majority of Chile decides.”
But not all of Chile's political sectors expressed their agreement with the measure.
Viviana Delgado, environmental representative, declared: “Today the compulsory vote was approved, much to the regret of those of us who do believe in voluntary voting. We have to give a real civic education to the citizens of our country. Motivating and trusting the public is the task of everyone, not just a law.”
The law had special support after the constitutional plebiscite was held on September 4, a scenario in which voting was mandatory without the need to carry out prior registration and in which citizen participation reached a percentage of 86%.
Prior to holding these elections, and with voluntary voting, the highest turnout reached 55.6% during the second presidential round between the current president Gabriel Boric and his contender José Antonio Kast.