Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election time: Puerto Rican style

Today, I voted in my first Puerto Rican election, and I was proud to do so. We vote for the mayor, governor, and legislature (but not the president). Politics is huge here; nearly everyone who is eligible votes. Voter turnout is typically about 77%, compared to about 50% in the US (although that number should be considerably higher this year). All businesses are closed, and it's a $5,000 fine for anyone caught selling alcohol.

The two main political parties are the Partido Popular Democrático (roughly equivalent to Democrats in the US), and the Partido Nuevo Progresista (roughly equivalent, and just as nasty as the Republicans). Everyone I know is voting Partido Popular Democrático, who stand for continued commonwealth status. The Partido Nuevo Progresista are for statehood, which many fear would jeopardize Puerto Rico's identity. English-only legislation in the US is particularly frightening, and even more stupid here than it is in the US, and that's pretty stupid.

The polls opened at 8 AM, which in Puerto Rico means sometime around 8:40. No one but me seemed to mind. Election day is a very social time for a lot of Puerto Ricans; lots of shaking hands and kisses on the cheek. With all that, I was still back home by 9 AM.

It was actually very efficient once the doors opened. You present your voter registration card, sign the log, and dip your finger in a phosphorescent solution (they check you at the door with a black light; if your finger glows, you can't come in). They give you your three paper ballots and point you to the voting booth (a large cardboard box with a plastic curtain). Voting a straight party line is simple: 3 Xs, fold them up, hand them to the nice lady to put in the proper boxes, and you're done.

Now comes the long wait for the results.

I'm a little more nervous about the US presidential election. Although we cant vote in presidential elections, whoever wins will be our commander-in-chief for the next 4 years (if Obama), or the next 2 (if McCain). The possibility of a president Palin is too frightening to contemplate.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I truly wish you would write more often. You are always on point when it comes to the the day to day living in P.R. I truly enjoyed your estimate of the presidential candidates' life expectancies. Priceless!
Cousin Nancy in Tampa