Voters register to cast their ballots at a voting center in Santiago, Chile, on May 15, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Villegas/Xinhua/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Santiago, May 18 : Some 6.45 million eligible voters in Chile have cast their votes for mayors, councillors and for the first time regional governors and members of a constituent assembly over two days of polling this past weekend, election officials said.

The May 15 and 16 elections were a success, the President of the board of directors of Chile's Electoral Service (Servel), Andres Tagle, told reporters at a press conference here on Monday.

Between Saturday and Sunday, 6,458,760 people went to the polls, or 43.35 per cent of all eligible voters, according to Servel data.

Offering two days of open polls "works," with voter turnout exceeding the two previous municipal elections, said Tagle, admitting the extended voting scheme posed new challenges for oversight, Xinhua news agency.

After polling stations were closed, each ballot box with votes inside was sealed with adhesive tape and two numbered security seals that covered the sides and top.

The boxes were then gathered and kept at a designated custody centre.

At each of the country's 2,731 polling stations, a delegation from the Armed Forces was present throughout the process, accompanied by a general representative of the station, an assistant to the delegate of the Electoral Board and a Servel liaison.

Election results showed Chileans opted for political outsiders to sit on the constituent assembly to draft a new more egalitarian Constitution to replace the current one, which was adopted in 1980 under the country's military dictatorship.

For local and regional posts also, voters showed a preference for independents and progressives, with a large number of women being elected across the board, including as mayors of major cities, such as the capital Santiago and Vina del Mar, in the central Valparaiso region.

The decision to rewrite the Constitution emerged from large-scale protests in 2019 against the high cost of living and lack of opportunities for average Chileans.

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