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Presidential elections in Colombia: what is the difference between a blank vote, null vote and abstention?

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Re-election, Uribe and scandals: what do Petro, Fico and Hernández say? 4:35 Watch here the result of the live voting of the elections in Colombia this May 29. (CNN Spanish) — On Sunday, May 29, Colombians will go to the polls to elect the country’s next president and vice president, who will hold these positions in the 2022-2026 period. Almost 39 million voters are summoned to go out to vote from 8 am to 4 pm, local time. Voters will be able to choose from several different alliances, each consisting of one candidate for president and one for vice president. The electoral card will include said formulas and, in addition, will have a box with the legend “BLANK VOTE”. In this sense, what does the blank vote refer to in Colombia? Is it different from invalid votes and abstention? We tell you. Colombia’s registrar Alexander Vega shows the electoral card for the presidential elections on May 29, 2022. (Credit: RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images) What is the blank vote in the Colombian elections? The blank vote in Colombia is a relevant part of the country’s democratic processes, as it allows citizens to express their political feeling of disagreement in a vote that will be counted as valid. “According to ruling C-490 of 2011 of the Constitutional Court, which declared the enforceability of Law 1475 (Political Reform), the blank vote is ‘a political expression of dissent, abstention or disagreement, with political effects'” , indicates the National Registry of Civil Status. The body adds, again citing the ruling, that the blank vote “constitutes a valuable expression of dissent through which the protection of the freedom of the voter is promoted.” And what political effects can it have? The Political Constitution of Colombia mentions in its article 258 that, in the event that the blank votes obtain the majority (half plus one of all the valid votes), the election will have to be repeated. “The vote to elect members of a Public Corporation, governor, mayor or the first round in the presidential elections must be repeated only once when, of the total number of valid votes, the blank votes constitute the majority,” says article 258. However, if the blank vote wins again in the new election, the winner will be the candidate with the highest number of valid votes, explains the Registry. What is a valid vote and a null vote? According to the Registry, a valid vote is one in which the box of your preference is clearly marked with an X or other symbol. On the other hand, if you check multiple boxes or make entries that cover more than one box, the vote will be nullified (that is, it would count as a null vote). And the abstention? It is about the option that Colombians have of simply not going to the polls to vote. This is possible since suffrage is not compulsory in the country, but rather a right. On its website, RTVC – Public Media System explains that “despite the notorious abstentionism in the country, in Colombia the vote is still a right (to vote, to elect and be elected) but not an obligation, precisely because the Constitution Colombia tries to promote the freedom to choose”.

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