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Latino Daily News

Thursday June 28, 2012

Mexicans Living in the U.S. Find Absentee Voting Process Daunting

Mexicans Living in the U.S. Find Absentee Voting Process Daunting

Photo: Voting in Mexico

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The number of Mexicans living in the United States who will be able cast ballots in their homeland’s July 1 presidential election has been sharply limited by a cumbersome registration process, community leaders here say.

“The promise to facilitate the vote for Mexicans in the exterior is a right unfulfilled,” Juan Jose Gutierrez, coordinator of the National Regeneration Movement of Mexicans Abroad, told Efe.

“To be able to vote, they ask us for the voter’s credential,” he said. “And to get that document we have to go to Mexico to apply and that means the millions of undocumented (immigrants) who cannot travel are excluded.”

Even many Mexicans who are legal U.S. residents cannot afford the cost of a trip home to obtain a voter’s registration, Gutierrez said.

He said that of the estimated 12 million Mexicans in the United States who are eligible to cast absentee ballots in their country’s election, only around 60,000 have registered.

Mexicans will go to the polls next Sunday to elect a new president and Congress and choose among candidates for thousands of state and local offices.

“These presidential elections have generated enthusiasm and the Mexicans in the U.S. who have (residence) documents, knowing that it’s impossible to contribute with a great number votes by mail, will go visit their families this weekend in Mexico, and so they can vote on Sunday,” Gutierrez said.

“Others of us who live near the border are organizing caravans to cross the line to the closest cities, such as Mexicali and Tijuana, and be able to vote there,” he added.

Mario Cardenas, president of the Council of Mexican Federations in North America, offered similar criticism of the absentee voting process.

“Many of our people leave their voter’s registration behind when they cross the border and from here there is no way they can retrieve or renew that credential,” he said.

“Participation in Mexico’s democracy by Mexicans abroad is limited by the political myopia of the Mexican authorities,” he concluded.

Mexico’s consul-general in Los Angeles, David Figueroa, said expats are taking part in the 2012 electoral process in greater numbers than years ago, when absentee voting was first established.

“Around 59,000 people have registered to vote from abroad and as of now some 35,000 envelopes with ballots have already reached the Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico,” he said.