OGDEN -- Peruvians living in Utah are thousands of miles from their home country, but they will still be able to perform their civic duties.
The Consulate of Peru offers citizens living abroad a chance to cast their ballots in the country's election to decide if Ollanta Humala or Keiko Fujimori will be president. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 at Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City.
"To me it seemed fabulous, because there are many people who live abroad," Peruvian citizen Maritza Arce-Larreta said. "The number of Peruvians living abroad is huge."
Arce-Larreta is happy to be able to participate in her country's election. She cast her ballot in the primaries April 9 and looks forward to doing it again in June.
"They did it all very well," Arce-Larreta said. "It was very well-organized."
The polling place will be a destination for voters coming from Utah, Idaho and Montana.
The process will be nearly identical to the one in Peru, with election officials monitoring the polling place. Voters must present their National Identification Document with an address within the three states.
Honorary Consul of Peru in Utah David Utrilla, of South Ogden, said the estimate of the number of Peruvians living in Utah ranges from 20,000 to 25,000, of which about 2,700 are registered to vote.
Some Peruvians have come to Utah because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while many emigrated to Utah from other states looking for a better future, attracted by Utah's low housing prices and safety.
Because there has not been a consulate in Utah for the past decade, Utrilla said he and other civic-minded Peruvians had to travel to other states to vote. He is glad to bring voting back to Peruvians in the region.
"It is not only a right," Utrilla said, "but a civic duty."
In Peru, voting is compulsory and not participating can result in a fine, so the need to vote is ingrained in his fellow Peruvians. There are almost 20 million voters in the elections, with about 750,000 living abroad.
With millions of dollars flowing into the South American country from those living overseas, the voice of Peru's expatriates is just as important as those living in the country.
"A Peruvian living abroad is the same as the Peruvians in Peru," Utrilla said.
And with a very close presidential election, Peruvians living in the United States could cast the deciding ballots.
The Peruvian candidates and political parties also have recognized the effect citizens living abroad have on the election.
This year, Utrilla said Peruvians abroad have been the target of ads from both political parties.
Arce-Larreta said modern technology lets voters stay well-informed through the Internet, magazines and Canal Sur, a Peruvian television network available in the United States.
This allows a voter to make a decision without relying on hearsay.
"They shouldn't be saying that my cousin told me to vote for this candidate," Arce-Larreta said.
The primaries on April 9 went smoothly, so Utrilla expects the general election to go even more so.
"I think this election will be much easier," Utrilla said.