In preparation for the upcoming presidential election in Mexico political parties in Mexico are actively targeting Texans as potential voters
THE BIG DALLAS — Earlier this month, representatives of Mexico’s National Action Party began a get-out-the-vote drive for Mexico’s 2024 presidential election while about fifty leaders of the Mexican American community dined on fajitas in a quiet corner of the El Ranchito Mexican restaurant in Oak Cliff.
Marko Cortés, president of Mexico’s center-right PAN party, served as the group’s de facto leader. When he and his campaign team showed up, they were greeted with cheers and a round of applause as mariachis played in the background and people gave him hugs and kisses on the cheek. With him were Ricardo Anaya, a presidential candidate in 2018, and Ral Torres, Mexico City’s first migrant congressman.
About 2.5 million immigrants in Texas are of Mexican origin, making up a massive voting bloc for parties in Mexico. Even though all Mexican citizens living abroad have the right to register and vote in presidential elections, only a small percentage of eligible voters actually cast ballots in previous elections.
With the goal of unseating President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party, Cortés and the other PAN officials see this as a golden opportunity. Morena gained control of 20 of Mexico’s 32 state governorships in last year’s elections and now governs 16 of those states.
The first “Comité Azul de Acción Migrante” (Blue Committee for Migrant Action) was launched at the Dallas event, and it is made up of Mexican migrants living in the United States who recruit new members and conduct voter outreach.
An estimated 11% of Mexico’s population currently resides in foreign countries, with the majority calling the United States home.
Cortés argued that Mexican migrants “have voting power” and “the ability to influence and advise their family who lives in Mexico.”
In Texas, “there’s a huge concentration of migrants and that’s why we are here,” said Juan Hernández, who served as coordinator of Mexico’s Office for Mexicans Abroad under Vicente Fox’s presidency. Hernández, who also oversees a migrant assistance office in Mexico, has stated that the party is “promoting voting options for Texans who are citizens of Mexico, because they need to be informed of their rights.”
According to Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst for the Migrant Policy Institute, the number of eligible Mexicans to vote in the U.S. has doubled since 2005, a milestone that was widely celebrated in the country’s last presidential election. The Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan think tank monitors global immigration data trends.
According to Mexico’s national election agency, the majority of the nearly 182,000 Mexican migrants who voted from abroad in the 2018 presidential election were located in the United States. More than half of the votes cast were for Morena, while PAN saw a decline in support from voters living outside of Mexico for the second election in a row.
Those voters clearly showed their support for López Obrador, but he and his party have questioned the necessity of the nonpartisan Federal Electoral Institute, which organises voting locations for Mexicans living abroad.
Since López Obrador cannot seek reelection due to Mexican law, he has pushed for budget cuts at the Federal Electoral Institute.
Cortés warned his audience in Spanish that the president’s left-wing party is trying to limit the right to vote for Mexicans abroad, calling this a “risk to democracy,” as he spoke to them in a Dallas restaurant decorated with a portrait of the Virgin Mary, colourful papier-mâché decorations, and red roses.
Representative for the Morena party in the federal legislature, Hamlet Almaguer, said that his party has long pushed for expanding voting options for citizens living abroad. Almaguer claimed that the party maintains strong ties to diaspora Mexicans in the United States and that other Morena representatives frequently travel to major U.S. cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.
He emphasised the importance of international voter registration drives and civic engagement in the run-up to the 2024 elections. A foreign campaign that ensures widespread participation from Mexicans living in other countries is crucial for our party.
Cortés told the Dallas crowd that he hopes a constitutional amendment in 2021 will help his party gain more American supporters. All descendants of Mexican citizens, not just the first generation born outside of Mexico, are granted Mexican citizenship and the right to vote in Mexican elections under the law. This increases the number of eligible U.S. citizens who can cast a ballot.
Previous elections only allowed mail-in absentee ballots from the United States and other countries for Mexican citizens living there. By logging into a website run by the Federal Electoral Institute that opens around September of the year prior to an election, Mexican citizens living abroad can cast their ballots in state elections using their voter ID cards.
Mexican citizens living abroad will likely have three voting options in the 2024 presidential election: voting by mail, voting electronically, or voting in person at a Mexican consulate or embassy, according to Cesar Ledesma, a secretary at Mexico’s federal voter registry.
Attendee Lidice Edith Sanabria, originally from Cuernavaca, Mexico, and a member of a group of Mexican women in Dallas-Fort Worth who advocate for women’s rights, said, “Making voting easier for those abroad gives those who left the country an opportunity to continue to play an active role in taking care of their family and friends left behind.”
According to Sanabria, many Mexican nationals living in the United States have trouble maintaining ties to Mexico.
Migrant Policy Institute analyst Ruiz concurred. “Many Mexican immigrants in the United States have felt disconnected for a long time from the politics of Mexico, despite the fact that they have made such a significant contribution to Mexico’s economy,” he said.
The Bank of Mexico reports that in 2022, Mexican expatriates sent home a record $58 billion, up more than 13% from the previous year.
PAN is organising additional events across the country in light of the massive increase in eligible voters that the 2021 reforms will bring about. As the presidential election approaches, the party intends to visit and open more migrant action committees in cities where many Mexican migrants have registered to vote. These cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
The Mexican diaspora may not have a decisive say in the upcoming presidential elections, Ruiz warned. But if we want to make [international outreach] better in the future, every little bit helps right now.