Change of Electoral Address
The presidential elections in Costa Rica are approaching, so I will conduct an experiment: voting abroad. Here I share the first part of the process.
Costa Rica is a small country, with just over 5 million inhabitants. It has 7 provinces and many districts. For those unfamiliar with it, it is located in Central America, acting as a natural bridge between North and South America. Our system is democratic, allowing us to elect our parliament every four years. Personally, I think this is too short a time between one government and another, but that's the way it is.
The next voting date is February 6th, which is in almost 5 months. My identification card specifies where I should vote – specifically, in Costa Rica. But around that date, I have a trip planned and will be out of the country, hopefully in Europe. So, I thought it would be a good idea to change my voting address.
Change of Electoral Address
The process for changing the electoral address has two variants:
- The first is if the voter wants to vote elsewhere within the country. This can be done in two ways: by requesting a new document in person at a branch office, asking for a new ID card, and when providing data, stating a different voting place or simply requesting the change of the voting place without a new document. The change in the system is then made without any issues.
- The second method is for voting abroad. In this case, it is assumed that the person requesting is not in the country, i.e., outside of Costa Rica, so the entire process is online. I'm not sure if one can complete the process at a branch. I assume it's possible, but it's not indicated anywhere.
Here's where the process gets interesting. In-person, they take your photo, fingerprints, and signature using dedicated equipment. But online, you have to get creative using whatever resources you have at hand. The form checks that all three elements provided match the requested formats.
The first is the photo. They ask for a light gray background, though I did it on a white background and it passed validation. Hats or "emo" hairstyles covering part of the face are not allowed. Interestingly, photos with glasses aren't permitted, even though my ID has me wearing glasses. Any modern smartphone can take the required photo. The main challenge comes with the format: the image must be a JPG, 175px by 140px, and not larger than 5555 kilobytes, a rather arbitrary number in my opinion.
For the format, I used the website iloveimg.com, which allows for easy conversions. By default, an image of that size probably won't exceed 5MB.
The second requirement was the signature, which needed a white background. This was problematic as no matter how white the paper was, the background appeared yellow or gray. I signed on the whitest paper I had and used the website (photopea.com)[https://www.photopea.com] to adjust the white balance until the paper looked white and the signature as black as possible. I went to
image > adjustments > levels and adjusted the curve. Honestly, I can't explain which direction I moved the curve because I'm not sure what this option does to the image, but trust me, it worked. That's what I read online, after all.
The size requirements were
JPG format, and not larger than
5555kb. Again, I used iloveimg.com.
Finally, the fingerprint, and this was quite the odyssey.
The recommendation is to use an ink pad on white paper, snap a photo, and that's it. However, practically no one has an ink pad at home. So, I had to resort to entirely homemade and somewhat primitive methods.
I took a disposable kitchen towel and a pen with ink that I had to sacrifice. I disassembled the pen, cut off the metal tip, and blew through the hole at the end of the tube, gradually letting the ink drop onto the towel. I must admit it required a lot of effort to get the ink out.
Then, with some ink on the towel, I spread it a bit and dabbed my index finger, making several tests, about 10 or 15, aiming for a good print. Some had too much ink, others not enough. But eventually, I got a decent fingerprint.
I followed the same process as with the signature, adjusted the levels until the paper looked white, and the fingerprint as black as possible. The requirements were
110 x 110px,
JPG format, and not exceeding
5555kb. Again, iloveimg.com was the tool of choice.
After obtaining these three elements, it was just a matter of uploading them to the official website and waiting for them to be validated. I made the request at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday, and by Monday at 1:30 p.m... it was approved