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Guatemala: Following the General Election

Today, September 11, 2011, Guatemalan citizens will elect local, municipal, legislative and executive authorities. Hundreds are working from early in the morning until midnight to make democracy a reality. Although Guatemalans living abroad cannot vote, thousands of people around the world will be closely following the event using new technologies.

This election will be special: for the first time in history the majority of voters will be young. Up to three million citizens are under thirty years old.

Also, for the first time in Guatemalan history the rural vote will be more important than the urban vote, and a woman will be elected Vice President –the three presidential candidates leading in the polls have selected women as their Vice President.

Josue Goge, jgoge on Flickr, "I'm ready to vote. Are you?" (CC BY 2.0)

Here is a selection of interesting projects and links to follow during the day (all links lead to Spanish-language sites):

@PlazaPublicaGT has set up a special coverage section with reports and independent analysis on the elections, publishing interesting articles and closely monitoring the electoral process with reporters in different areas of the country.

Tenemos el poder (We have the power) is a Web platform increasing the awareness of young people and encouraging them to learn why their role in politics will be crucial for the future of the country.

Pilas con tu voto is encouraging young people to inform themselves and vote. Other Websites are engaged in similar activities, like Ve por que, Se busca Presidente, Politica Stereo and Vozz Guatemala.

Guatemala Visible and Congreso Transparente provide comprehensive guides on the candidates’ backgrounds and preparation.

Guatemalans already started voting and while mainstream media is covering the election in the most important urban concentrations, hyperlocal and citizen media are doing so in rural areas. From very early in the morning, sites like Mi Jutiapa, Pueblo Clic, and @Barillas in Huehuetenangoare are reporting from villages across the country.

For the first time, “Mirador Electoral”, an observatory on the legality of the elections, installed a #Ushahidi platform to allow citizens to report irregularities during the election day.

On Twitter, #eleccionesgt is the general hashtag to follow the elections; an alternative hashtag is #evoto

The election authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, will publish preliminary results on its website tonight.

It is hoped that these elections will be a peaceful and inclusive celebration of democracy, of the right to vote and to demand results from elected politicians. A second electoral round is expected if neither of the presidential candidates reach 51% of valid votes.

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