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A push for absentee voters

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “It’s one thing to be proud to be Mexican, it is another thing to have a voice,” she said. After years of pressure from immigrant groups, the Mexican government last June voted to allow Mexican emigrants – who send back billions of dollars and have become an increasingly important economic force in the country – to vote via absentee ballot in the presidential election. Mexican nationals and those with binational residency can register online or at a local consulate until Jan. 15, the deadline. Immigrant rights groups have also been handing out registration forms. To register, Mexicans living outside their country must have an electoral card issued in Mexico. Until last month, nationals had to return to their home state to obtain the cards. But after increasing pressure from immigrant groups the Instituto Federal Electoral, the country’s electoral agency, announced it would open a half-dozen information booths in border towns, including Tijuana, where electoral cards could be issued. “The people are responding, I have been getting so many calls,” said Jorge Arturo Garcia, the president of Comite del Partido Revolucionario Institucional en California. The political party – which formerly ruled over Mexico for 70 years – is sponsoring a caravan to Tijuana today from Huntington Park. So far, 50 immigrants have signed up to pay $20 for the caravan. Other groups have also sponsored trips, including a free one put on by Consejo de Feraciones Mexicanas en Norte America, an umbrella organization representing more than 10,000 Mexican immigrants. “People want to vote and they want to participate. But they are not happy with this process,” Garcia said. For instance, illegal Mexican immigrants won’t be able to return to obtain electoral cards. And those who can register must spend $8 to certify the registration applications. As of Nov. 22, only 2,100 have registered to vote, just a small fraction of the estimated 4 million eligible Mexican voters living in the United States. Mexican officials were unavailable Friday, but last week, the voter registry director for the agency told The Associated Press he was expecting a surge in registrations since setting up the booths. The agency’s campaign also includes a special jingle from Norteno band Los Tigres del Norte, and it plans to deploy small army of electoral workers at airports and bus stations to help nationals returning for the holiday register over the next two months. And later this year, the agency will roll out commercials on Spanish-language television. Still, the effort does not satisfy many immigrant organizations who complain the agency has not provided enough information for would-be voters. “(The Mexican government) can do all the promotion it wants, but what we need is more assistance. We need people to help us face to face,” said Adrian Maldanado, the former president of a group representing immigrants from the Mexican state of Nayarit. “They know that the Mexican vote (abroad) could define what president will be in Mexico.” Moreover, he said, the majority of potential voters that are willing to vote can’t obtain their electoral card even if they wanted to. Many are illegal immigrants and cannot return to the country. Mexican officials said they are merely ensuring that it will be a secure voting process. Rachel Uranga, (818) 713-3741 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As the Mexican government launches an $8 million absentee-vote campaign to nationals abroad, immigrant and political groups have set out by the busload to register for the 2006 presidential elections in Tijuana and other border towns. Longtime U.S. residents like Alexandra Vargas view the vote as a way to reconnect with her roots and have a stake in their homeland while more recent migrants see it as a long-overdue way to exercise their political voice. “Now that I am registering to vote, I feel more Mexican than ever and am more proud. But more importantly, I have a say in Mexico … and I can improve it,” said the 34-year-old hospital facilities manager, who came from the state of Michoacan at the age of 7. Vargas, who on Wednesday traveled with an immigrants right group to Tijuana to apply for an electoral card, said filing out the registration forms was so encouraging that she brought back a small stack for her family in Arleta. She spent much of Thanksgiving convincing her parents and siblings to register. last_img read more

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