Josefina Vázquez Mota may’ve ended in third in yesterday’s Mexican presidential election but she scored a win among her countrymen living abroad.
According to Mexican electoral officials, the former minister representing the PAN gained 42.16% of the expat vote while Andrés Manuel López Obrador was second with 38.99%.
Presumed general election winner Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI finished a distant third among Mexicans abroad with a paltry 15.61%.
The results were a repeat of the previous presidential election six years ago when most expats opted for the PAN’s Felipe Calderon while the PRI candidate only gained 4% of the vote. For Carlos Arango, the head of Chicago-based community organization Casa Aztlán, the results this year are not a surprise:
Once again most voters abroad “punished” the PRI since “they have no sympathy in the U.S.,” said Arango. “Those that are living abroad have not forgotten that they had to leave Mexico due to the problems caused by PRI-led regimes.”
The activist also noted that Enrique Peña Nieto and his party “did not invest in the expat community until the very end of his campaign.”
Unfortunately for Vázquez Mota the electoral support from expats did little to close the gap between her and the other candidates that finished ahead of her. Part of the reason for this is that there are very few registered voters abroad with just 46,478 in the U.S. alone. Of the over twelve million votes received by Vázquez Mota only 15,978 votes came from expats.
Several limitations explain why there are such a low number of Mexican voters abroad. Voters must be registered through the Mexican government and this allows them the chance to mail their ballots in (as seen in the example from the above video). Yet voters must physically have an electoral voting card and this is only available in Mexico, which becomes a deterrent to those who cannot afford to travel back to Mexico.
Undocumented immigrants may not want to risk going back to their homeland and not being able to return to the countries they migrated to. “Many Mexicans are afraid that if they register to vote they will be deported due to their immigration status,” said Antonio Zavaleta, director of the Texas Center for Border and Trans national Studies at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Mexican electoral officials have proposed several ways to encourage the expat vote including allowing online voting. In the meantime, perhaps Vázquez Mota can enjoy this Pyrrhic victory.
Video Source – YouTube via LaVozdelMagisterio
Online Sources – vivelohoy.com, Americas Society, Puebla Online, El Universal