Jordan High is playing a part in the Chilean government’s history.
Thanks to connections Jordan High Assistant Principal Roberto Jimenez has made in the Chilean community, the Canyons District school was asked to serve as the polling place for Chileans living in the Beehive State who wanted a cast a ballot in that country’s presidential election.
Jimenez was approached by officials in the Chilean government who were looking for a polling place in Utah. The Chile voting officials also arranged for polling places in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Jimenez, who is an American citizen but whose family members are from Chile, met and corresponded with the Consul General in Los Angeles in preparation for the vote. “They asked for a place to be, we asked to our district officials, and we were on,” Jimenez said. “It’s been very exciting to be a part of this historic election.”
This is the first election in the history of Chile in which Chileans are permitted to vote from abroad. A law enacted in 2016 gave the 450,000 Chileans residing abroad the right to vote in presidential primaries, national referendums and first and second round presidential elections.
Some 123 Chilean citizens living in Utah went through the voter-registration process to vote in the 2017 election. Sixty-four cast ballots on Sunday.
“I think it’s a lesson in civic duty,” Jimenez told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark in a post-election interview. “To think that people who live so far away from their country, thousands of miles away, they take the time to drive for hours, for two or three hours, to get to Jordan High to cast their vote.”
The vote required a room big enough to have a table for three officials from the consulate and a voting booth that is far enough away from the officials to guarantee privacy.
The school hosted the Chilean presidential July 2 primaries and the Nov. 19 general election. Because the Chilean president is elected by the absolute majority of valid votes, if no candidate obtains such a majority a special runoff between the two candidates with the most votes from the general election will be held Sunday, Dec. 17. This vote also will be held at the home of the Beetdiggers.