Can the country’s new election laws improve Costa Rica’s pathetic voter turnout, and where did all the displaced migrants go?
Costa Rican citizens are heading to the polls Sunday to elect municipal leaders in elections that has many people watching with anticipation. So far, the vote has already affected thousands of Cuban migrants in the country, has seen a banned political leader re-enter politics, and is the first vote since the country’s new election law was passed.
The polls officially opened across the country at 6 a.m. local time, in which citizens started to cast their ballots for 81 new mayors and six thousand locally elected officials.
The over 5,630 polling sites will be based in government mandated educational buildings, municipal halls, and churches, which has caused problems for thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in the country who were being temporarily sheltered in these buildings.
This year’s elections also saw the political comeback of Johnny Araya Monge, a former mayor of San Jose and presidential candidate for the 2014 elections. However, after he withdrew from the presidential elections prematurely, his party, the National Liberation Party (PLN), banned him from participating in any political activities with them for the next eight years.
Monge has since joined the Allinace for San Jose Party in order to participate in this year’s elections, running once again for mayor of San Jose Centro.
However, of more importance to election monitors will be how many of Cosa Rica’s 3.2 million registered voters, and 53,000 foreign nationals, will turn up to cast their ballots. This will be the first elections since the country changed its electoral laws, holding municipal elections mid-way through the presidential terms instead of the same year, in order to draw in more voters.