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Empty booths.

For the first time in history, Mexicans living abroad can vote in a presidential election in their home country. As many as 11 million Mexicans live outside Mexico, of whom 4.2 million are likely to be eligible voters, according to the Mexican government.

Nearly all of them--98%--live in the United States. Canada is in second place with 30,000 Mexican nationals, and Spain comes in third with 5,000.

Nevertheless, at press time the Mexican elections commission, known as IFE, had received just 56,749 applications for voting credentials. "In terms of proportions, we should have received 98% of these applications from inside the United States, but that's not the case. Mexicans in the other countries are participating much more," says Patricio Ballados Villagomez, who is coordinating voter registration among Mexicans living abroad. "This certainly has a lot to do with the level of people who tend to migrate, with their educational levels and such."

The election commission has spent nearly US$14 million to promote the initiative, especially along the U.S.-Mexico border, where they have enlisted the names and faces of famous Mexican singers and soccer stars to drive home the message. Yet response has been minimal. Part of the problem, analysts say, is the unfounded fear among many illegal migrants that registering to vote could compromise their position in the United States. Several migrants asked to comment on the subject of voting were visibly afraid to respond and strongly denied that they even live in the United States.
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Title Annotation:Mexicans living abroad allowed to vote in presidential election
Author:Rueda, Marisol
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Previous Article:Bush bash.
Next Article:To the polls.

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