The clock is ticking as the registration deadline fast approaches for Mexican expatriates to vote in their country of origin’s presidential election this year. Although Mexican election officials are confident a late rush of applications will mean greater absentee participation than in the 2006 election,
preliminary reports of the number of applications received indicate few expatriates will vote in the 2012 race.
According to Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), 14, 776 voter registration applications had been received as of December 20. That’s out of a potential voter pool of an estimated four million migrants. Opened in October, the registration window for Mexicans living abroad closes on January 15-more
than four months before the July election.
The vast majority of the applications processed have been from the United States, while others have trickled in from Canada, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries. In the 2006 election, 33,000 Mexicans abroad voted by mail. Typically, election authorities also install special precincts in
border cities, tourist towns and bus stations for out-of-district voters.
In a final push to rack up migrant registrations, IFE officials used Mexican embassies and consulates abroad and media spots in the United States to convince more of their countrymen to register in time.
In comments made before just before the Christmas break, IFE President Leonardo Valdes called on Mexicans who have relatives abroad to talk to their respective family members about the election. “The consolidation of democracy in the
country and its institutions counts on the participation of the Mexicans who left in search of better living conditions,” Valdes said in Mexico City.
In order to vote in this year’s presidential election, US-based migrants must complete paperwork and return it to an IFE post office box in Laredo, Texas. If the packet is sent by United States Postal Service priority mail, the Mexican government will pick up the tab.
Once a registration is approved, the successful applicant will receive a paper ballot in the mail sometime between April 16 and May 20. The deadline for mailing back the ballot is next June 30. Federal election officials insist the vote will be secret and confidential. Migrants who choose this method of voting
will be able to vote only for president and not congressional representatives, who are also up for election in 2012.
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