Mexico to conduct third vote from abroad

On July 1, nearly 500,000 Mexicans living in the United States and other countries will be able to take their vote to the polls
A woman holds a pamphlet encouraging Mexicans to register to vote – Photo: Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS
08/02/2018
15:01
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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Citizens from 150 countries and territories who are temporarily or permanently absent from their own country will be able to take their vote to the polls as those nations—more than 50% of the world’s democracieshave regulations in force for voting from abroad. In the same vein, this summer Mexico will conduct the third process of its kind since 2006, entering a new phase of a long and cumbersome journey that started in 1996.

On July 1, nearly 500,000 Mexicans living in the United States and other countries will be able to take their vote to the polls by post to elect the next President of the Mexican Republic, members of Congress, and  seven State Governors (Mexico City Mayor, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Puebla, and Yucatán).

Back in January, Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, Head of the National Electoral Institute (INE) acknowledged the cooperation of the Mexican diplomatic missions around the world while emphasizing that INE’s main task is not only to organize the elections, but rather to make sure that the process “gives legitimacy to future administrations.”

However, as El Universal in English pointed out in the article Vote from Abroad, that figure is a mere goal bearing in mind that in the 2012 General Election only 40,737 Mexicans took their vote to the polls from abroad. The official figure was similar to that of 2006 which was limited to the Presidential level and with an estimated overall cost of USD$ 27.7 million.

Despite the low number of people who have completed the process to obtain their voter ID from abroad since September 2017—less than 12,000 by mid-January—, INE is confident that its campaigns will result in an increasing interest of the expatriate community to enroll in the Register of Mexican Residents Abroad (LINERE). INE has until March 31, 2018, to boost credentialing and LINERE registration, yet only half a million Mexicans living abroad already have their voter ID, a marginal figure considering that the Mexican diaspora exceeds 12 million people in the U.S. alone.

According to experts, one of the reasons for poor registration is fear of deportation among the immigrant community in the United States, due to the new policies promoted at a Federal level.

It was until 1996 that the demand for the right to an external vote was really met in Mexico and the first juridical and institutional steps were taken to allow Mexico’s foreign vote project as part of a large package of electoral reforms.

A complex and lengthy process

The decision-making process was very complex and lengthy. Although the authority and different stakeholders worked hard to promote an informed debate based on sound facts and figures, such as holding the first international seminars to assess the issue in a comparative perspective, it was not easy for the political parties represented in Congress to reach the agreements needed in order to pass a bill, according to specialists Carlos Navarro Fierro and Manuel Carrillo Poblano in the case study section titled “Mexico: safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process” published in Voting from Abroad. The International IDEA Handbook sponsored by INE and the United Nations Development Program.

The debate upon preserving the main attributes of the electoral system when designing any external voting mechanism was critical. A fundamental reform had taken place during the late 1980s in order to deal with the serious lack of public confidence in elections and their credibility, the authors recall. The legislation gradually incorporated several measures to guarantee the integrity and transparency of the organization and management of the process, and “during the debates over external voting, it was agreed that these were essential features of the Mexican system that would be extremely difficult to replicate abroad.”

In this occasion, the counting of votes cast abroad will be carried out in one national center in Mexico City, at the same time as those cast in the country, that is, starting at 18:00 on polling day. It should be noted that the electoral authority must receive the votes cast abroad one day before the polling to take them into consideration as part of the votes.
 
Editing by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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