Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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Beq's Excellent Adventure... absentee voting in Mexico

According to a story in today's Universal (Herald translation here): "Election officials say roughly 21 percent of the registered voters living abroad have already gotten their ballots in ". That's a lot, if Beq's (who is a well-educated professional) experiences with the absentee ballot process are at all typical. First, you had to find the IFE website for Mexicans living abroad who wanted to vote. First glitch: lack of publicity. I learned about the website through my university's alumni newsletter. Otherwise I would have never been privy to this fact because I never saw it advertised anywhere. I emailed every Mexican living abroad I knew, but I never got word from any place about this. Second glitch: the rules came inside the website (if you managed to find them by choosing the right tabs in a labyrinth of too much information). Something not lots of people understand or have access to... ok whatever, next. The instructions: - you had to have your credencial de elector (how many paisanos travel with this in the first place? if you didn't have it, you had to tramitarla, and that was a whole other ballgame); - you had to fill a downloadable pdf application and sign it; - you had to send this application along with photocopies of front and back of your credencial de elector and your signature... you had to also mail proof of foreign domicile (bank statement, state id, drivers license, something). Most important glitch in my opinion: you had to send all these to a weird apartado postal address by "correo certificado" (according to instructions), and the deadline to postmark it was january 15, 2006. "Certified mail" by USPS is not possible to a P.O. box in an international destination. I tried. it didn't get there. I tried Fedex. It also did not get there (address does not exist according to Fedex). In my last attempt I pleaded with USPS personnel to work with me and explained the situation. they offered "registered mail". I was unsure registered would work, I had to send it certified. but certified had already flopped, so I tried registered. That's the one that finally went through and arrived safe and sound. Now, if you're anal and ocd like me, that difference (from certified to registered) is a huge deal. They're requiring you to follow the instructions to the letter with no deviation or you might render the whole thing invalid, and their friggin instructions are wrong by one crucial word. Anyway, let's go on. Once the application was sent to Mexico, it had to be processed over there. if/when approved. Then they sent you a packet.The packet included:
  • A CD with all the candidates' videos (or should I say one was a video and two sent a photo you had to stare at while you heard a taped speech) [for the record, I didn't even consider the two lesser candidates, in my opinion they're lost votes].
  • A CD with audio (same thing, sans the visual pleasure of candidates' photos).
  • A booklet (same speech you heard in the CDs, only now in paper).
  • A cotton-thread bracelet ("with my vote, Mexico is complete" ... awww, you shouldn't have).
  • The boleta for your vote.
  • Instruction pamphlet.
  • And a self-addressed, self-stamped envelope (thank you!! no glitches sending the thing back this time!).
You just have to make sure you send those in time for the IFE to receive them before 8:00 amon July 1. That's the end of it. Wouldn't it have just been easier to go vote at the local consulate or embassy? IFE personnel could have been present at voting boxes. the same personnel they needed to hire to take care of the applications and the packets and the vote counting in Mexico, just deployed to consulates and embassies rather than staying at home? Hey, at least there's no hanging chads!


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