Salvadorans Get Right to Vote Back Home

“I continue to be a Salvadoran in the U.S.,” reads a flyer to apply for the Salvadoran ID, which will be needed to vote. (Photo via La Tribuna Hispana)

Following years of intense debate, the National Assembly of El Salvador passed a law last week granting Salvadorans who live abroad the right to vote back home.

According to the U.S.-based Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the new law will enable at least 200,000 Salvadorans living outside of their homeland, including about 160,000 in the U.S., to vote in future presidential, legislative, and municipal elections.

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 countries, particularly in the U.S. and Canada where 92% of the expats live.

After hearing of the January 24 vote in social media networks, Salvadorans expressed their satisfaction with the measure, said Active Transparency.

“Excellent news, thanks to our compatriots who helped us push forward and ask the Legislative Assembly to pass this law, today democracy is having a party, we are celebrating democracy,” published the Network of Foreign Salvadoran Communities.

“Honestly, I’m truly elated and applaud this favorable ruling by the Commision on Electoral Reform,” said Betty Araniva, a resident of Toronto, Canada, and a member of the organization Salvadorans in the World, which persistently urged for the legislation’s approval.

“It’s a constitutional right, a victory for the struggle of many and another step for democracy. It allows those of us who left and those still in El Salvador to unite,” an emotional Araniva told Transparencia Activa.

“It’s good news, because it’s a constitutional right, but now this: Who is it going to benefit in the short term,  Salvadorans living abroad, their family members, or the political parties?” asked Rafael Bonilla.

The Salvadoran community abroad has long demanded voting right in the country’s national elections. Several Salvadoran organizations of Long Island gathered at their country’s consulate in Brentwood earlier this month to push for the legislation. La Tribuna Hispana also reported on last week’s vote. The next presidential elections are on March 2014.

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