Expatriate Mexicans in the United States can vote in July's Mexican presidential elections, but barely any are registering to do so.
To vote or not to vote?
The estimated 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States play a major role in their homeland's economy, sending billions of dollars to family members in Mexico. This year, for the first time ever, they can exercise that clout in the political arena by voting in Mexico's July 2 presidential elections.
Will most support the front-runner, former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador? Or perhaps a candidate from the conservative National Action Party, or the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which lost its 71-year hold on power in 2000?
None of the above, apparently.
With the Jan. 15 absentee-ballot application deadline approaching, only some 10,500 expatriates have sent in the necessary paperwork. That's about two-tenths of 1 percent of the 4.2 million eligible expat voters.
The Mexican government says expatriates appear to be uninterested. But political analysts and advocacy groups say even the most determined voters have been discouraged by the rules created by Mexico's government.
To obtain an absentee ballot, expatriates must send copies of their Mexican voter ID card, Mexican identification and proof of U.S. residency to Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute. Those without the card must travel to Mexico to apply for one, then return a few weeks later to pick it up.
Besides the hassle and cost of two trips, millions of Mexicans in the United States illegally are not willing to take the risks involved in applying for the card.
Expatriates also complain that it's hard to connect with candidates because election officials have prohibited campaigning in the United States to help ensure compliance with Mexico's political spending limits.