Voting from abroad is now a reality for Salvadorans. The bill introduced by President Mauricio Funes was unanimously approved by the Legislature, granting political participation to a community that makes significant contributions to the country from abroad.
How many people will be able to participate in the 2014 election will depend on whether they have an ID card (DUI) that is updated with the address in the country where they live, have not adopted a citizenship that precludes being a Salvadoran citizen and meet the established deadlines.
This puts pressure on Salvadoran consulates in the U.S. as well as on many Salvadorans who, despite living far away from consular offices, will want to participate in the next presidential election.
It is estimated that there are almost 2.5 million Salvadorans in the U.S., but only about 150,000 are ready with their DUI to vote.
In this regard, participation in elections from the U.S. will be linked to additional efforts by the diplomatic missions to serve increased demand for services, since this type of vote will be allowed for the first time. It is just as important for the Salvadoran Legislature to approve supplementary funding in order to cover processing expenses.
It is essential that this process to allow expatriates to join the electorate has good results. The Mexican community is still experiencing the bitter taste of frustration because of the way the government handled voting from abroad.
The Salvadoran community abroad sent $3.648 billion in remittances in 2011, which were one of the main sources of income for El Salvador. Therefore, the possibility of voting from abroad recognizes the contributions of expatriates who have never forgotten their homeland, despite leaving it to seek a future in different horizons.
Now the process needs to be implemented in a way that is as inclusive as possible.