I Registered To Vote in Guatemala for the First Time in My Life

There are some things you just can’t pass up in life, no matter how late you are for dinner or in this case, to the gym. I was dashing across Central Park in La Antigua when right in front of me in the municipality building was the first voter registration table manned by the TSE,– the Tribunal Supremo Electoral, Guatemala C.A. I slowed my pace down, not quite sure how fast this registration process would be, curious, but not ready to commit. Then the significance of it hit me: I had never registered to vote in Guatemala, the country of my birth, ever in my life. Not only that, but here I was a journalist, just finishing up a two-day international conference for journalists specifically focusing on the upcoming election on September 11. Was I about to just cruise on by? I don’t think so. But first, I popped out my cellphone to record a video of the process:

It took a total of five minutes, the fastest process I’ve gone through in Guatemala other than buying saldo or pre-paid funds for my phone. All I had to do was present my DPI, Documento Persona de Identificaci√≥n, or my cedula, tell them where I live, sign the form, give a fingerprint and then I was done! At the end I got this voter registration form that I’m supposed to take with me in order to vote:

Since the TSE website informs us that the end of voter registration is only 13 days, 23 hours, 2 minutes and 27 seconds away (a lot less after you read this), I felt an urgency to start reading the voter guide. I put the registration form into my pocket, put my cellphone away and then I asked the incredibly helpful young man who walked me through this process (after he got through his initial disbelief that I’d never registered to vote) if he was going to give me a voter guide. He looked puzzled.

“What do you mean, a voter guide?” He asked more curious now than befuddled.

“Oh, something to tell me who the candidates are, what political party they represent and educational information about their position statements on main government topics.”

“We’re non-partisan, ma’am,” he said matter-of-factly. I smiled and told him that many countries provided educational information so voters are informed about the basic information and that that doesn’t mean partisanship, it just equates to an informed voter. He nodded his head and then his face lit up with the answer.

“That’s easy! You can just look at all their Facebook pages and find all their information there. Some of them have their own websites, but definitely, I’ve seen them all on Facebook.”

2 comments on “I Registered To Vote in Guatemala for the First Time in My Life”

  1. Actually, in the US, few states produce voter guides.

    I think a voter guide has been made a necessity in California where government is often done via referendum.

    In Wisconsin, we are lucky if a non-profit such as the League of Women Voters puts one together for your district. Most of us have to rely on news reports and webpages to make my decisions.

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