San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Upcoming presidential elections will include votes from Costa Ricans living abroad in 42 countries

A total of 12,654 Tico expats on Feb. 2 will vote from abroad to elect a new Costa Rican president for the first time in the country’s history.

President of the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) Luis Antonio Sobrado on Friday confirmed that polling centers will be enabled in 52 consulates within 42 countries.

Also for the first time ever, voters in 31 countries – 98 percent of the total from abroad – will vote using an electronic system consisting of an ultrabook computer and a printer. TSE officials will personally deliver the devices to those consulates with at least 50 registered voters.

Consulates with less than that number of voters will use paper ballots that also will be transported by TSE personnel from Costa Rica.

Each polling center will have a board of at least three poll workers including a TSE official and volunteer citizens. If there are no volunteers, consulate or embassy staff will serve as poll workers.

To cast a vote each person must present valid identification (cédula or passport) to a poll worker, who then will enable the voting software on the computer by entering a password that will be generated for each voter.

Once the password is approved, the presidential ballot will be displayed on a touch screen, where the voter will select a candidate or choose to cast a blank vote.

The system then will prompt the voter to confirm his selection and then it will print a receipt that will be inserted into a ballot box.

In case the computer fails or the software becomes inoperable, the TSE official will be able to print paper ballots to continue the voting process using a pen.

Sobrado confirmed that TSE will invest a total of ₡131 million ($262,000) in the logistics to allow Tico expats to vote in their countries of residence. That’s some ₡5,000 ($10) per voter.

Consulates with the largest number of registered Tico voters are New York with 2,657, Los Angeles with 1,487, and Miami with 1,153.

Those with fewer votes are in Belize (3), Trinidad & Tobago (4) and India (6), and there are no Ticos registered to vote in Jamaica.

According to the Constitution, Costa Ricans voting abroad will be allowed to vote on the presidential and vice presidential races, but not to elect lawmakers.

The results will be announced Feb. 2 at 6 p.m., Costa Rica time.

Contact L. Arias at

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