On July 1, Mexicans cast their ballots for president, Congress, and state governors. This marks the third presidential election since the nation's entire electoral system was reformed beginning in 1990, and as in the two earlier elections, the outcomes have been accepted. News reports described the electoral process having taken place with limited problems for voters.
Mexico’s next president will be Enrique Pena Nieto, candidate of the Institutional Revolution Party, known as PRI, who has officially won with 38 percent of the vote. The runner-up this time as well as in 2006 was Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, with 32 percent while National Action Party candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota placed third with 25 percent. These results closely aligned with final official preelection polling announced June 27.
In 2006, Mexico's presidential election ended in a virtual tie, and it took two months to determine the outcome. Despite cries of fraud from the Left, the outcome gave National Action Party candidate Felipe Calderon a 243,934 vote margin of victory. Protests similar to Occupy Wall Street took place throughout the country, but once the Federal Electoral Commission declared Calderon the winner, the verdict was respected and accepted by all but a few Mexicans. If one wants credible, simple, and sensible elections, one need only look to Mexico as a shining example.
Bear in mind, that for 75 years, Mexico had one of the most corrupt and fraudulent electoral systems among so-called democratic governments. All this changed in the early 1990s when Mexico established a nongovernment organization, the Federal Electoral Institute, a totally nonpartisan institution respected by all legitimate parties. Today, its system is a model to emerging democracies such as Haiti and Iraq. The practice of Iraqis dipping their thumbs in blue ink upon voting was adopted from the Mexican system. After voting, Mexicans dip their thumbs in purple ink.
Compared with the Mexican electoral system, the American system is woefully inefficient and open to fraud. Our current system is actually a composite of 50 systems that vary from state to state. Some require photo identification, others do not. Some allow for no-fault absentee voting. Others do not. Some allow for early voting or Internet voting. Currently, 16 states have enacted a photo-ID mandate. Fifteen states, including Ohio, require voters to show some form of personal identification such as a utility bill or a bank statement.
Mexicans are very scrupulous about documentation for official purposes, so one must present required documents to register to vote. There's no such thing as “motor-voter registration” as is done here; a new Mexican voter has to take a birth certificate and proof of residency to an IFE office to register.
Once the application is complete, the newly registered voter is photographed and fingerprinted. With this, an official voter ID card is created containing picture, thumbprint, and voter encrypted data. Registration must be renewed every 12 years. It takes about two weeks for the card to be created, at which time the voter must return to the office personally sign for, and collect it. It is not mailed. The Federal Electoral Voting Card cannot be tampered with or altered and is the gold standard for identification purposes.
To allow for the greatest possible access to voting, Election Day is always on Sunday in Mexico. Everyone votes on the same day, no exceptions. Absentee voting? It doesn't exis, because of the high potential for fraud. There are no provisional ballots and no possibility of “hanging chads.” Polls open and close at the same time in all parts of the country. Beginning in 2006, voting was extended to voters outside of Mexico, particularly to accommodate the millions of registered voters in the U.S. The poor and disadvantaged are especially encouraged to register and vote.
Nearly 80 million Mexicans were eligible to vote in the July 1 election, and an estimated 62 percent actually voted, more than the norm in American presidential elections. Americans can only hope that our presidential election in November will be as noncontroversial as Mexico’s and that the outcome will be respected. The Mexican system is not perfect and has various shortcomings which can and should be addressed.
The Mexican electoral system versus the American electoral system: Which is the banana republic?
David Arredondo is the vice chairman of the Lorain County, Ohio, Republican Party. From 1973 to 1975 he was a Mexican Government Fellow and did postgraduate studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
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