More than 14,000 vehicles, as well as mules, horses and boats will be deployed to distribute more than 100,000 ballot boxes nationwide this weekend, with election-workers going the extra mile(s) to ensure citizens in the most remote parts of the country can cast their vote.
According to a report prepared by Argentina’s post office, Correo Oficial de la República Argentina (Official Post Office of the Argentine Republic), which is responsible for the logistics behind the vote, more than 63,000 workers are tasked with facilitating the transfer of ballot boxes, election material and Covid-19 health protocol kits to guarantee that the PASO primaries pass off smoothly.
More than 17,000 polling stations are enabled across the country for voters to visit, the Télam state news agency reported Friday.
Some election workers will be going to the extreme in order to ensure every vote cast is counted – for example, to reach El Durazno, in the province of Jujuy, a 12-hour ride by mule must be factored in.
“The national mail-carrier reaches 17,092 voting establishments, even those that are in the most inaccessible regions and that require a more complex logistical operation; such is the case for the places located in Tilcara, Jujuy, where [Correo Argentino] workers, together with the Argentine Army, will carry out the transfer of electoral materials by mule back to four establishments, crossing more than 80 kilometres between the hills and the Quebrada de Humahuaca for more than 12 hours to reach schools in Abra Mayo, Molulo, El Durazno y Yala Monte Carmelo,” Correo Argentino said in a statement.
A similar operation will take place in Calamuchita, Córdoba Province, where the polling station with the fewest number of voters in Argentina is located.
To take a single ballot box to the Escuela Provincial Florentino Ameghino, located at the foot of Mount Champaquí, workers will have to traverse the highest peak of the local mountain range by mule. It’s an epic journey lasting more than seven hours that takes in dirt roads, streams and rivers – and all to enable just 13 voters to cast their ballot.
"This type of deployment using mules, horses and even boats takes place simultaneously in different parts of the country,” explained Mariana Aballay, director of electoral services at Correo Argentino. “They begin their journey at different times according to the distance, the number of schools to be reached and the difficulty of the road."
...or by boat
The operation even takes to the water. In order to reach voters on Isla Apipé Grande, in Ituzaingó, Corrientes Province, on the border with Paraguay, Correo Argentino’s workers must travel 10 kilometres down the Paraná River. After disembarking, a 30-kilometre journey in a 4x4 off-road vehicle across tricky terrain awaits, until eventually the ballot boxes reach their destinations: Escuela No. 752 Prefectura Naval Argentina, y a la Escuela No. 419 Guardacostas Río Iguazú.
Elsewhere, down another branch of the Paraná River, to the north of Buenos Aires Province, Correo Argentino must take to the water to reach the islands of the San Fernando Delta. Workers will board a Naval Prefecture boat for a two-hour trip carrying nine ballot boxes to Escuela No. 20 Remedios Escalada de San Martín and Escuela de Educación Secundaria Técnica No. 1.
On each one of these special operations, a mail worker will be in charge of protecting the ballot boxes. Members of the security forces will also be on hand to accompany them, with the more distant trips requiring an overnight stay.
Once polling stations close on Sunday evening, it’s time for the return journey – a trip that can be “arduous” and “difficult,” according to Correo Argentino, given it will have to take place in the dark of night.