Wednesday, April 17, 2024

ARGENTINA | 07-11-2023 16:00

104-year-old Argentina grandmother wins court battle to protect her right to vote

Berazategui grandmother Fanny Magdalena Córdoba, has voted in every election since 1951, when women first won suffrage in Argentina. Blocked in this year's elections from casting a ballot due to her age, she went to court to ensure she retained her democratic right to vote.

The first time that Fanny Magdalena Córdoba voted was on November 11, 1951, when women in Argentina were able to vote for the first time thanks to the undisputed impetus of Eva Perón. On that day, at the age of 32, ‘Chona’ – as Fanny is known to her loved ones – promised to herself that she would cast a ballot vote in each election thereafter that she was able to, a chain of events that she kept to the letter until the 2021 legislative elections.

But history changed in Argentina’s PASO primaries on August 13, when the resident of Berazategui, Buenos Aires Province, received a nasty surprise. At 104 years of age, and with her democratic conviction unshaken, she went to her local school, the polling station she has been assigned to for several years, but found herself unable to vote. It was a shock, she recalls, one that made her return home with a bitter taste in her mouth and with doubts that neither the authorities at the polling station were able to resolve.

The same situation was repeated two months later, in the October 22 general elections. Again, no-one knew how to answer her? Why had her right to vote been taken away? Why was she unable to fulfil the promise she made in her youth. 

"How can it be that I wasn't registered, if I have voted in every election?” she complained in an interview with Perfil. “Since the first one, I never missed [a vote], rain or shine, I had to go and do my duty. Once I was in bed with pneumonia and I got up and went to vote.”

Faced with the situation, Córdoba’s family did not hesitate. The way to channel their relative’s complaint was through a formal denunciation to Argentina’s National Electoral Chamber (CNE). Aged 104 years of age, Córdoba was able to demonstrate to the courts that she is able to vote and that she is willing to do so in the second round on 19 November.

The file soon reached the office of the federal judge with electoral jurisdiction in La Plata, Alejo Ramos Padilla. In record time, he took the case and wrote a resolution in which he explained that, by means of a 2018 ruling by the CNE, it had been decided to exclude voters from the electoral roll, automatically, when they reached the age of 104. 

The judge wrote that "the citizen has been affected in her right to elect those who will represent her in the different spheres of government." He argued that "the longer life expectancy of citizens means that special situations such as those of the claimant should be taken into special consideration."

Upholding her complaint and ruling that she be reinstated on the electoral roll, Judge Ramos Padilla made clear "the interest in participation expressed by a citizen who has experienced the impossibility of electing her representatives.”


Unbridled joy

The judge’s decision was met by unbridled joy from the veteran voter.

“I was nervous," she said in an interview, "How could they have taken me off the electoral roll when I can still vote? I always liked to do it, to fulfil my role as a citizen. And as long as I can, I'm going to do it.”

She concluded: “Voting makes me happy, as long as I can get to the polls I will try.”

Fanny defines herself as a woman of firm convictions. She was born 104 years ago in Pirovano, a small town on Route 65 in Bolívar, but as an adult she moved to Berazategui. She worked for a textile company before finding a post with the local municipal government.

"I've always worked, I've worked a lot. That's why they know me both here and in Pirovano, more than acquaintances, we were all a family! People always appreciated me a lot. When I worked in social welfare, all the people were the same for me, I think that's why they appreciate me," she explained.

Full of vitality, today she is surrounded by a large family that includes her four children, 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and "many great-grandchildren." All in all, “number 50,” she told Perfil.

Although her vibrant family provides her with plenty of energy, Fanny is not lacking in vitality either. 

"I feel good physically. Everything is going well. The only thing I have is a blow I got and I put out my knee – that's why I'm lame, with a walker. The doctors don't want to operate, so I have to put up with it, but that's all I have," she said amid consultation over her health.

With so many years of history behind her, and voting day just two weeks away, Fanny has a clear and urgent message to her fellow Argentines. 

"What would I say to young people? Go and vote. I think if someone doesn't want to vote they are not helping our country. I feel proud to do my duty because I love Argentina.”

Ariel Stemphelet

Ariel Stemphelet

Redactor de información política y judicial de Perfil. [email protected]


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