Home Expat in mexico Will U.S. voters in Mexico make a difference?

Will U.S. voters in Mexico make a difference?

According to the U.S. State Department, about 9 million American citizens live abroad. Some are resident expats working in businesses or as teachers. Some are retirees and diplomats. Others are members of the military living with their families on far-flung bases. Still, others are students studying at universities. More than 1.5 million of these American citizens live in Mexico. 

Overseas Vote (@overseasvote) | Twitter

Yet data reveals that only 7% of those Americans overseas who were eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election did so. Will things be different in the 2020 election? Will Americans overseas mobilize and get out the vote? 

Over the past two years, the Democrats have been active in their push to end the presidency of Donald Trump. However, their choice in the Democrats Abroad primary this year was Bernie Sanders, with 57.9% of the vote, not Joe Biden. Most Democrats, at least those voting in primaries and hence the most active, are of a progressive bent. Will these Sanders voters compromise and vote for Biden in the general election? Or will they stay at home, as many did when Hillary Clinton ran in 2016?

Democrats Abroad, the Democrats’ official arm for Americans living abroad, has established a growing following not only in Mexico City but also in the Lake Chapala area and in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city. They have mailing lists of registered voters as well as campaigns to get nonvoters registered; they maintain Facebook pages, hold monthly meetings, and provide absentee voting assistance. 

Republicans Overseas, on the other hand, has far fewer active members and maintains a negligible presence on social media. However, the Republican opposition should not be dismissed. Republicans are less vocal down here, perhaps, because of the perceived negative attitude from their Mexican neighbors, but they are attracted to Trump’s progress with the economy (before the quarantine), his support of the military, his omnibus crime bill and his strong position on illegal immigration. We know this and more from English publications in Mexico and the Guadalajara Reporter, which usually avoid U.S. politics, but, when they do print an article critical of the Trump administration, often find a conservative backlash in letters to the editor or online comments.

Camilla Esser, the secretary of Democrats Abroad in Guadalajara, said in an interview, “Our motto this year is, ‘Be the margin of victory.’” She reminded us that overseas voters helped decide a critical national election before. In 2000, the Bush-Gore contest was decided by a small number of absentee ballots in Florida from overseas voters. George W. Bush’s campaign tried to validate the highest number of ballots possible in counties he had already won while seeking to disqualify overseas ballots in counties where Al Gore led.

According to both the Washington Monthly and the New York Times, an analysis of 2,490 votes found that Florida accepted 680 questionable votes — ballots without postmarks or postmarked after election day; ballots mailed from U.S. cities and states; and even ballots from individuals who voted twice. Bush ultimately won the Florida contest by 537 votes. So, when Trump speaks of the possibility of fraud in mailed ballots, he may have a point, historically. 

For many of us, voting while abroad presents difficulties that will be exacerbated if the coronavirus quarantine continues. Right now, there is no reliable mail service between the United States and Mexico. Paper ballots mailed from the United States to Mexico often never arrive at all or arrive too late. Mail delivered through the U.S. Postal Service can take anywhere from a month to three months to arrive in Mexico. Once the ballot is received and filled out by the voter, the problem is getting the ballots back to the state registrar of one’s U.S. residence. In the past, U.S. consulates would accept completed ballots from citizens and forward them to the proper registrars. They no longer provide this service. 

Filling out a ballot via the internet through a secure portal would be much simpler and more efficient, but most states are refusing this option. It is time for this anachronistic dependence on paper mail to change. Online voting through a secure portal would eliminate fraud, provide a higher participation rate, and be more efficient. In these days of quarantine, it could be a domestic solution as well. If we can trust the secure link on Amazon to accept our money and deliver our packages, why can’t we find a similar method for the government to securely record our vote? Perhaps Americans overseas can help lead the way.

Source: northamericanproject.com

The Mazatlan Post

Exit mobile version