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Mexican citizens in Texas are registering for a historic election without Trump or Biden

At the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Mexican citizens can obtain a voter registration card and register to vote. Feb. 25 is the deadline to register to vote in this year's election.
Stella M. Chávez
At the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Mexican citizens can obtain a voter registration card and register to vote. Feb. 25 is the deadline to register to vote in this year's election.

This year’s presidential election in Mexico has garnered a lot of attention. The two front-runners are women, all but guaranteeing Mexico will elect its first female president.
In addition to the presidency, every seat in Mexico’s Congress and nine gubernatorial races are also at stake.
And the June 2 election will also mark the first time Mexican nationals abroad will be able to cast their ballot in certain Mexican consulates in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Nohemi Manuel Benitez who lives in North Texas doesn’t want to miss her opportunity to cast a ballot. She plans to vote at the consulate in Dallas and said she’s glad that option is available.

“It’s like the polling places in Mexico,” she said. “You go and vote and return home.”

Benitez is also excited that Mexico is set to elect its first female president, something that hasn’t happened in the U.S.

“I’m 100 percent a feminist. I support women,” she said. “I have my preferred candidate and that’s why I registered to vote.”

Observers say bringing the polling stations to voters wherever they are is significant.

“It is very special due to the fact that this is the first election [that will offer that], said Francisco de la Torre, Consul General of Mexico in Dallas. “We have more than 90 million people with a voting ID between Mexico and abroad, which is huge. It’s [going to be] the largest election ever held in Mexico.”

More than 1.5 million of those with a voter ID live in the U.S. But having a voting card isn’t enough to participate in the election.

Mexicans must also register by February 25 to be eligible to vote. Mexican election officials recently extended the deadline to register as well as obtain a voter ID card.

During recent past presidential elections, Mexicans living abroad were allowed to vote by mail and some Mexican states offered them the option of voting online. Now, anyone can vote online. The National Institute Electorate emails a code that voters can access on certain dates to cast their vote.

Last year, three consulates – Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles — participated in a voting pilot program for elections in two Mexican states. The pilot was successful.

For the upcoming presidential election, 20 Mexican consulates in the U.S., including two in Texas, will stand in as polling stations. The two in Texas are in Dallas and Houston. The consulates abroad are in Madrid, Paris and Montreal.

Currently, the Los Angeles Mexican consulate has the most voter IDs in the U.S., or a 180,000. Dallas is next with 150,000 processed voting cards, followed by Chicago with 120,000 and Houston with 90,000.

"It's a wonderful thing for democracy that this will happen,” de la Torre. “And this is very important to understand, it’s not that the Mexican government or the consulates are organizing the elections. We’re just lending the building to the National Institute Electorate.”

That independent body will be responsible for sending representatives to oversee voting at the selected consulates. Voting will not happen on paper but instead electronically. Participants will get a receipt of their vote.

Ulsis Ruiz Segovia, 41, said it’s good people who live abroad have different options for voting.

"I think it’s good because there are many of us living outside of the country,” Segovia said. “This gives us an opportunity [to vote].”

Segovia, who has a 16-year-old daughter, calls this year’s election revolutionary and symbolic. He points to the hundreds of women in Mexico who are killed every year.

“I talk to my daughter about it,” he said. “She tells me that hopefully a woman will be elected so changes can happen and women feel more supported.”

To obtain a voter ID or to register to vote, those eligible must visit their nearest consulate and each one has its own schedule of when it’s open for those services.

The Dallas consulate, for example, is open to the public without an appointment for voter ID services through Friday from 7 to 10 a.m.

Mexican citizens elsewhere who want to register should find out their local consulate's schedule before visiting.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.