U.S. voters living in Costa Rica came out in big numbers to support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in his quest to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee this week.
Sanders ran away with the Global Presidential Primary in Costa Rica this week, collecting 130 votes to Clinton’s 58, according to partial preliminary results reported by Democrats Abroad Costa Rica Chair Kathy Rothschild.
Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucus, got one vote.
In all, 189 people voted in person.
Rothschild said that these results only reflect those who voted in person at the five polling stations Democrats Abroad hosted in Costa Rica between “Super Tuesday” on March 1 and Saturday, March 5. Democratic voters living in Costa Rica who did not get a chance to vote in-person can still submit their ballots online or by mail until March 8. Click here for details.
Votes collected will be sent to Berlin, Germany, the location of the Global Democratic Convention on May 14. Democrats Abroad will send a total of 21 delegates based on the results of primaries all over the world to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.
There is no in-country voting for Republican presidential candidates here but voters can cast absentee ballots in their home states. Voters should check their state’s rules for voter registration, deadlines to accept absentee ballots and whether party affiliation is required to participate in the primary. There is no absentee option for caucus states.
Tania Kaimowitz from Alajuela was part of the Sanders tsunami, voting at a polling station at Tin Jo restaurant Saturday afternoon. She said that Sanders was her candidate because he seemed more consistent in his positions than Clinton. Kaimowitz said she would support whoever was the Democratic nominee but said that Sanders was closer to her own views on several issues, from immigration to social welfare and opposition to war.
Kaimowitz said that she was “freaked out” at the idea of Donald Trump as president, “I wanted to come out and do my part.”
Democrats Abroad volunteer Vicki Skinner, who said she supports Sanders, decided to cast her vote in the Global Primary instead of in Florida, where she is registered. “Hillary has a big lead there,” she said, “I decided that my vote would have more impact here.”
Democrats Abroad Chair Kathy Rothschild said that this was the first time that the organization has hosted polling stations outside the San José Greater Metropolitan Area. The strong voter turnout outside the San José area surprised Rothschild.
“It was a gamble but I’m happy to take credit for it now,” Rothschild laughed. Reflecting on the high turnouts in Grecia, Pérez Zeledón and Quepos, Rothschild said that the organization needs to continue reaching out to other parts of the country, like Limón.
“San José isn’t the center of the world,” she said, “People were really grateful to be able to vote where they live and not have to come to San José.”
Rothschild said that in the coming months Democrats Abroad would host voter registration drives around the country for the general election and work to encourage the young people who came out to vote in the primary to participate more in the group’s meetings.
“We’ve had this surge of enthusiasm,” she said. “Now the trick is to see how we can capitalize on it.”