How can Colombians in Arizona vote?

The Colombian community in Arizona will vote for representatives in the Senate, the House of Representatives abroad and in the Colombian presidential consultations this Sunday in Phoenix.

The consular headquarters in Los Angeles, the closest to Phoenix, organizes visits so that Colombians in Arizona can access consular services. This Sunday, the reason for the visit will be to allow Colombians to vote in the legislative elections and in the interparty consultations of the different political coalitions.

Phoenix’s only polling station will open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. at the Interlingua School, located at 5107 N. Seventh St. (Seventh Street and Camelback Road).

According to Colombia’s National Civil Registry, of the nearly 5 million Colombians residing abroad, approximately 900,000 have the right to vote from abroad. According to Alfonso Vélez Rivas, consul general of Los Angeles, more than 500 are eligible to vote in Arizona.

Citizens will only be able to vote if they present their valid ID card, physical or electronic, and if their ID card is registered in Phoenix. Documents such as passports or ID passwords will not be valid for voting.

What ballots are available to voters?

This Sunday, Colombians can mark their vote on three ballot papers.

To choose the representative of Colombians abroad in the House of Representatives, Colombians must choose one of the three ballots available, which include an international constituency (brown vote), an indigenous constituency (green vote) or a of African descent (gray vote). ).

For the Senate, voters can choose the national constituency (dark blue ballot) or the indigenous constituency (pink ballot).

In addition, they will be able to participate in the presidential consultation of the parties and elect a candidate from one of the three political coalitions.

A native waves a Colombian flag during a protest against President Ivan Duque's government in Cali, Colombia, May 5, 2021.

According to Vélez, voters must keep in mind that this Sunday they will be offered the ballots for the Senate and the Chamber, but each voter must ask the polling staff for the ballot for the presidential consultation for which they wish to vote.

“According to the guidelines in place, staff members are not allowed to express this to the voter,” Vélez said. “The voter is the one who has to ask the staff to give him one of three ballots. The one he chooses, the one he prefers; but he has to do it as a voter.”

The three coalitions and their candidates are:

Equipo por Colombia (light blue vote): Aydeé Lizarazo (MIRA), Alex Char (País de Oportunidades), David Barguil (Partido Conservador), Enrique Peñalosa (Partido de la U) and Fico Gutiérrez (Creemos Colombia).

Coalición Centro Esperanza (light green vote): Juan Manuel Galán Pachón (Nuevo Liberalismo), Sergio Fajardo (ASI), Jorge Enrique Robledo (Dignidad), Carlos Andrés Amaya (Dignidad) and Alejandro Gaviria (Colombia tiene Futuro).

Pacto Histórico (orange bulletin): Gustavo Petro (Colombia Humana y UP), Francia Márquez Mina (Polo Democrático Alternativo), Camilo Romero (Verdes por el Cambio), Arelis Urina (MAIS) and Alfredo Saade (ADA).

The three winners of the cross-party consultations will join candidates Rodolfo Hernández, Ingrid Betancourt and Óscar Iván Zuluaga to contest the presidential elections in May.

If the voter is afraid of forgetting who they want to vote for, citizens are allowed to wear an aid which, according to the regulations, must not exceed 10 cm by 5.5 cm, in which the voter can register the party , the movement, group or candidate for which they will vote.

This memorandum must be carried in a non-visible place and can only be removed at the time of the vote.

The use of mobile phones in or near the ballot boxes is prohibited.

Recommendations for Colombian voters

Olga Zapata, leader of the Colombian community in Arizona, said that in other cities such as Los Angeles, Miami or New York in which the electoral process began on March 7, there was some confusion among citizens. Zapata offered advice to help the community prepare to vote on Sunday.

  • Check where their ID is registered: Citizens can check where their ID is registered via the National Registry website at https://eleccioncolombia.registraduria.gov.co/censo/consultar/.
  • Know how to vote properly: “Study the voting mechanism well,” Zapata said. “It’s extremely important that people know how to vote to prevent their vote from being canceled or invalidated.” The voter must mark an X in the box with their preferred candidate and political party. General recommendations include not marking anything outside the box for the candidate or list that the voter wants to mark, bearing in mind that marking more than one list will invalidate the vote.
  • Bring their ID card: Zapata recommended that citizens have their citizenship ID card ready as it is the only valid document to vote.
  • Know the voting hours: Zapata pointed out that after 4 p.m. the polling station will close and not accept any more votes.
  • Bring your own pen: Zapata clarified that it can be good for the voter to bring their own pen and know that it is advisable not to use markers as the ink can go through causing the cancellation of the vote.

Zapata also reminded Colombians that although the deadline for registering their ID cards for the Congressional elections expired in January, Colombians are encouraged to register their ID cards for the presidential elections, which will take place on May 29.

Colombians in Arizona will be able to register their ID until March 29 through the Info Votantes cellphone app, or they can also do so in person at the Los Angeles Consulate.

Contact breaking news reporter Laura Daniella Sepulveda at lsepulveda@lavozarizona.com or on Twitter @lauradNews.

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