LOCAL NEWS

‘They want to participate’: Mexicans in Utah will be able to take part in Mexico’s presidential vote

May 25, 2024, 3:55 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm

Eduardo Baca Cuenca, general consul of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City, discusses voting by...

Eduardo Baca Cuenca, general consul of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City, discusses voting by Mexicans abroad in Mexico's looming presidential election at the consulate on Friday. (Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

(Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, a parallel campaign south of the U.S. border for the Mexican presidency is reaching a crescendo.

At the same time, while many Americans focus on President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, a smaller contingent in the United States, including Utah, is zeroing in on Claudia Sheinbaum and Xóchitl Gálvez. The two women are the leading contenders to replace Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who’s limited to one term in office.

Mexicans living abroad have been able to vote in Mexico’s elections since at least 2006. But the process has opened up with the introduction by Mexican election authorities of electronic and in-person voting this cycle, and around 187,000, including some in Utah, have taken the required steps to cast a ballot. Voting abroad is actually underway and will culminate on June 2.

A care for what’s happening in Mexico

Many Mexicans in the United States and around the globe “genuinely care about what’s happening, and they want to participate,” said Eduardo Baca Cuenca, consul general of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City. They still follow what’s happening in Mexico, have family there and send remittances to loved ones, he said.

Twenty-three locations around the world — 20 of them in the United States, though not Salt Lake City — will accommodate in-person voting by Mexican expatriates on June 2 for the first time, Baca said. Electronic voting from abroad, also a first, is already underway. Some 187,000 Mexicans outside of Mexico have registered and taken the required steps to vote, the vast majority of them in the United States, including Utah.

One of the long-standing demands by Mexicans abroad, Baca said, has been for change allowing them to more easily vote in Mexican elections, precipitating the opening of the process. Mexicans in Mexico may only vote in person and will do so on June 2.

The photo shows the Mexican flag flying outside the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City on Friday. (Photo: Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

“‘We contribute to Mexico, to its economy; we should also be able to participate, you know, in the big decision, which is who will govern our country,'” they argue, Baca said. “Also, public policy started to reflect … the importance of tending to our community abroad because … it’s a very large community. They contribute to the Mexican economy.”

Mexicans living abroad

Mexicans living abroad — the vast majority are in the United States — sent $63.3 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2023, according to the Associated Press. That’s up from $58.5 billion in 2022, according to the Mexican Interior Ministry, which represented 4% of Mexico’s gross domestic product.

The 187,000 Mexicans abroad who are eligible and registered to vote — Baca doesn’t have figures indicating how many are in Utah — represent a tiny fraction of expatriates from the country. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated there were 10.8 million foreign-born people from Mexico in the United States as of 2022, including naturalized citizens, legal residents, undocumented immigrants and others.

Still, balloting by the expatriates could make a difference in a close vote, Baca said. The in-person voting sites include two locations in Texas and eight in California.

Those with Mexican birth certificates, whether naturalized U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants or of some other migratory status, can get a voter identity card, though other steps are involved. They also need some other sort of identity card — a U.S. driver’s license will work — and proof of residency. “As long as you can prove you’re Mexican, you can get your voter ID,” Baca said.

As Mexico’s two leading presidential contenders — Sheinbaum and Gálvez — are women, the country is poised to get a female president for the first time. Sheinbaum, who has led in polling, comes from the left-leaning Moreno party, same as López Obrador, the incumbent. Gálvez represents a coalition of parties.

 

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‘They want to participate’: Mexicans in Utah will be able to take part in Mexico’s presidential vote