San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Ricans head to polls to elect mayors, municipal officials


Cecilia Campos votes at the Cleto González Viquez school in Heredia, north of San José, during Costa Rica’s municipal elections on Sunday. By 9 a.m., Campos was one of only a handful of voters. Poll workers expect low voter turnout.

Katie Onheiber | Tico Times

By 9:30 a.m., only 10 of 700 registered voters had turned up at Heredia’s Cleto González Viquez School, north of San José. At the nearby Rafael Moya Murillo, less than a kilometer away, poll officials were seeing similar trend: few voters.

“People just don’t attach much importance to the local elections,” Rafael Esquivel, a delegate from the Supreme Elections Tribunal, said. “We are hoping to see a better pace in the afternoon.”

For Cecilia Campos, who voted this morning at the Cleto González school, participating in elections is an important civic responsibility. “I came out to celebrate the democracy that we have. We can’t lose this right to vote,” she said after dropping her ballot in a cardboard box.

In 2002, 23 percent of voters turned out to select mayors, city councilors and district representatives. In the 2006 municipal elections, only 24 percent voted, a trend that has been common in local elections in recent years. Presidential elections generate much higher voter turnout.

In the Central Valley, the atmosphere is festive. Drivers wave colored flags of favorite political parties from car windows. Kids on street corners wear the party colors of their parents, and people can be seen walking down San José’s Avenida Segunda with T-shirts displaying the names of local mayoral candidates.

Polls will remain open until 6 p.m. today. For updates on today’s elections, follow The Tico Times online.

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