Reform suddenly swells Chilean voter rolls

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 10:36 AM
Reform suddenly swells Chilean voter rolls

Chile's democracy is in for a major shake-up as millions of citizens get their first chance to vote.

The nation's Senate on Tuesday passed a reform that increases Chile's voting rolls by more than half, from 8.1 million to 12.6 million registered voters in the country of 17 million.

The new law makes registration automatic and voting optional, eliminating a dictatorship-era system that gave older voters a disproportionate say. Nearly three-fourths of the new voters are less than 30 years old _ a generation energized by this year's massive protests for changes in education funding.

Municipal elections in October will provide a first test of this youth vote ahead of presidential and congressional elections in 2013.