Chile's new electoral law becomes effective

February 1, 2012 11:53 am 

SANTIAGO, Feb. 1 — The Automatic Registration in Electoral Records and Volunteer Vote Law, deemed one of the most important political reforms over the last 50 years in Chile, took effect on Tuesday after publication in Chilean "Official Daily."

Until now, electoral records registration in Chile was voluntary but the vote was obligatory and the non-fulfillment of it caused penalties.

Under the new law, registration in electoral records will be automatic and there won't be any penalties, which means voting will be voluntary, not obligatory. The new law also includes the registration of Chileans who live abroad, although they will only be able to vote in the country.

The new law was proposed by President Sebastian Pinera and approved by the National Congress on Dec. 20, 2011.

Pinera said last week that with the new law, young people will be incorporated because the previous electoral legislation distanced them from political activity. He also promised to increase the electoral universe and make the electoral process more attractive and competitive.

It is estimated that more than 4.5 million Chileans were not registered, but with the new law, the electoral record will reach 12 million voters.

In a poll from Central University's Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion (Cesop) which was spread on Tuesday, 74 percent consider voluntary voting will boost the participation of young people in elections, especially women.

The Cesop study also said with the new law, it will increase to 67 percent the number of voters, especially young people.

According to Cesop poll, 59.3 percent considered voluntary voting strengthens democracy, while 41 percent said it was necessary to stimulate voting or sanction the unfulfillment of the vote. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/jnc

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