A bill to replace the individual coalition ballots used in Argentina’s elections with a single paper ballot was approved for discussion in the Senate on Wednesday. However, it currently lacks the support it would need to pass a vote, which could see it returned to the Chamber of Deputies.

The bill was passed in the Lower House in 2022. On Wednesday, senators who discussed it in commissions settled on a final version of the bill, which will be debated and voted on in the Upper House. That version had the most support, including from ruling coalition La Libertad Avanza. However, a minority of commission members favored an alternative text that features a number of modifications. That is the version that could ultimately be passed if the first version is knocked back — but it would need to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies again.

To secure a majority in Argentina’s 72-seat Senate, the bill would need to be approved by 37 lawmakers. The proposed bill has 36 signatures. Vice President Victoria Villarruel, who is head of the Senate, is not allowed to cast a vote to break the tie because it pertains to electoral issues. If the voting ends up in a tie in the Senate, the bill will be completely dismissed.

In Argentine elections, each coalition has a paper ballot with the name of each candidate. In legislative elections, they can be very long. The bill proposes replacing those with a single paper ballot including all the coalitions that are running, showing only the names and pictures of the presidential and vice presidential candidates plus five legislative hopefuls.

If approved, voters would have to mark their chosen candidates for each category with a pen or pencil, or choose to vote for a coalition’s entire ticket in primary and general national elections. Variants of this system are already used in some provincial elections.

Proponents of the new system say it would save printing costs and require fewer party volunteers at polls. At present, these volunteers, known as fiscales, must ensure that there are sufficient ballots for their party. However, the Center for Research into Democratic Quality remarked on the social network X that the complexity of single paper ballots means they are not necessarily cheaper, and that volunteers are both required by law and necessary for other tasks on polling day.

Mónica Silva of the provincial Juntos somos Río Negro party presented a different version of the billthat includes several modifications, and which garnered the support of Peronist senators. It could be voted on in the Senate if the majority verdict is not successful, although it would also be sent for a vote in Deputies.

Silva proposed a ballot for each national category being elected — one for all presidential candidates, another for all deputy candidates, and so on — and removing the option to tick a box to vote for the entire ticket of a coalition, making it mandatory to choose candidates individually.

While the bill will be ready for a formal Senate debate next Wednesday, La Libertad Avanza is not calling for a session yet, seeking to negotiate and get the necessary support to pass it without any changes.

— with information from Télam.

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Bill to adopt single paper ballots gets green light for Senate debate

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11.01.2024

A bill to replace the individual coalition ballots used in Argentina’s elections with a single paper ballot was approved for discussion in the Senate on Wednesday. However, it currently lacks the support it would need to pass a vote, which could see it returned to the Chamber of Deputies.

The bill was passed in the Lower House in 2022. On Wednesday, senators who discussed it in commissions settled on a final version of the bill, which will be debated and voted on in the Upper House. That version had the most support, including from ruling coalition La Libertad Avanza. However, a minority of commission members favored an alternative text that features a number of modifications. That is the version that could ultimately be passed if the first version is knocked back — but it would need to be........

© Buenos Aires Herald


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