Legislative elections in Colombia: how, when and where to vote | International

The elections this Sunday, March 13, are the first step in defining the political course that Colombia will take in the next four years. Citizens must elect the members of the Congress of the Republic, in the Senate and House of Representatives, and also the presidential candidates of the three great coalitions: the Historical Pact, on the left; the Hope Center Coalition, in the center, and the Team for Colombia, on the right.

The National Registry of Civil Status and the National Electoral Council, the two institutions in charge of ensuring the proper conduct of the elections, have reported that there are 38 million Colombians qualified to vote at 112,897 tables located throughout the territory. The national registrar, Alexander Vega Rocha, assured that this year 12,000 more tables will be installed, compared to the last elections, in the most remote districts of the country.

Vega Rocha recalled that before going to the polls it is important that citizens consult the exact address of their polling place on the website of the National Registry, on the button Check your polling place here. In addition, he explained that the yellow citizenship card with holograms is the only valid document to be able to exercise the right to vote in Colombia. “The password, the military book, the driving passes, the passports and the ID cards with old format are NOT valid documents to appear at the polls.”

When can I vote if I am in Colombia?

The legislative elections and the presidential consultations in Colombia will be next Sunday, March 13, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The voting jurors must arrive at the polling stations one hour before. However, the dry law will take effect from Saturday, March 12 at 6:00 PM and will end on Monday, March 14 at 6:00 AM.

When can I vote if I am abroad?

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Colombians living outside the country can go to consulates and embassies from Monday, March 7 to Saturday, March 13, to exercise their right to vote.

What is chosen in these elections?

Colombian citizens will elect 108 senators, 188 representatives to the chamber and three presidential candidates

One of the ballots of the pre-candidates for the Colombian elections.
One of the ballots of the pre-candidates for the Colombian elections.

How to vote for the Senate?

Beatriz Gil, coordinator of Visible Congress, explains that of the 108 senators, 100 correspond to the national level, five will be political representatives of the Comunes party, formed by members of the former FARC guerrilla, two indigenous people and the last seat will be granted to the candidate for the Presidency of the Republic who occupies second place in the presidential elections.

To vote for the Senate, the elector may request one of the two ballots that are available: the one for the ordinary national constituency or the one for the special indigenous constituency.

Card of the ordinary national constituency and card of the special indigenous constituency / Registraduría

Should I mark the party logo or candidate number?

In any of the two Senate ballots, the citizen will find preferential or open voting lists and non-preferential or closed voting lists. In the open ones, the candidate’s number must be marked. In the closed ones, it is enough to score anywhere in the match box.

How to vote for the House of Representatives?

In the House of Representatives there will be 188 parliamentarians for the first time. Of the total, 162 will be chosen among the political parties by departmental constituencies. There will be one seat for Colombians residing abroad, two for Afro-Colombian representatives and one more for a special indigenous jurisdiction. The Partido Comunes will have the right to five representatives in the chamber and the vice-presidential formula of the candidate who comes in second in the presidential elections will have one seat.

This year, 16 seats will also be chosen from the Special Transitory Districts of Peace, in which only victims of the armed conflict may be elected. According to Beatriz Gil, from Visible Congress, these new seats seek to increase the political representation of the areas most affected by violence in Colombia.

How many cards are there for the House of Representatives and how many should I order?

Citizens must request only one of the three available cards: territorial, indigenous or Afro-descendant. As in the Senate, they will mark the party logo if it is a closed list and the candidate’s number if it is an open list. Voters will only be able to mark the candidates or parties according to the department in which they have their ID registered. Example: If your polling station is in the city of Bogotá, you can only vote for the House of Representatives of Bogotá.

It is important to clarify that for the first time the rural voters of the municipalities where there will be peace seats will be able to vote for two representatives to the Chamber: for the one from the ordinary territory and for the one for the new victims’ seats.

Card of the ordinary territorial constituency, card of the indigenous constituency and Afro-descendant card / Registraduría

What is chosen in presidential coalitions?

Next Sunday, March 13, Colombians will also be able to elect the presidential candidates from three coalitions. Remember that the voting jury will not be able to offer you any of these ballots if you have not requested it. To do so, the jury will incur the crime of constraining the voter. Citizens can only vote for one of the three presidential queries.

You will be able to vote for the Historical Pact, by Gustavo Petro, Francia Márquez, Camilo Romero, Arelis Uriana and Alfredo Saade; or by the Hope Center Coalition, in which Alejandro Gaviria, Juan Manuel Galán, Jorge Enrique Robledo, Sergio Fajardo and Carlos Amaya participate; or by the Team for Colombia, made up of Alejandro Char, Federico Gutiérrez, Enrique Peñalosa, David Barguil and Aydeé Lizarazo.

What are the benefits of voting in these elections?

After voting, citizens will receive the electoral certificate. With it they will obtain a 10% reduction in the value of the passport issue if it is requested during the four years following the vote, only once. In addition, students of an official institution of higher education will be entitled to a 10% discount on the cost of registration. With the certificate they will also have priority in the case of obtaining a tie in the results of the entrance exams to public or private institutions of higher education. Young people will obtain a reduction of one month in the time of compulsory military service if they are high school soldiers or auxiliary high school soldiers and two months if they are peasant soldiers or regular soldiers.

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