Are Mexican Elections Superior to the US?

While many Americans don’t register to vote or vote even if registered, national voting numbers fall seriously short of the percentage of eligible people. This despite registration being easy as is voting. 

Per the Constitution, voting in elections and elections themselves are run by individual states with different rules. 

Confusing different rules by state governments, a profusion of different election dates complicates elections as does a profusion of ballot styles. Other than Congressional and Presidential federal elections that are conducted on a date certain; i.e. the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November as stipulated by the Constitution, elections occur in odd number years as well as even numbered years. Some states restrict governors to two year terms elected on even numbered states or four year terms voted for in off years. 

Mexico is different; some say its electoral system is superior to ours.

Mexico’s electoral system — the system that will be used on Saturday, June 2, for over 20,000 candidates — is conducted differently than the U.S. system and probably outshines the U.S. system. 

First, rather than have elections administered by individual states and local jurisdictions, there is one electoral law and that law is administered by a non-partisan institution funded by the national government but not run by the government. The Institution is Instituto Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Institute, Spanish acronym – INE).

The INE is funded by a budget voted and approved by the two-house Mexican Congress. Administration of the INE is by non-partisan men and women. Partisan political staffers are prohibited. They are hired by the INE directly and paid by the independent agency. 

Potential voters must register by February 20th for a national voter registration card that is tamper-proof. A new twist this year is an absentee vote by Mexican nationals in other countries. The INE estimates there are a million and a half Mexican citizens living in the U.S. that are eligible to vote by absentee if they inform the INE that they will vote by absentee by February 20. They should call any Mexican consulate for details.

The INE was organized in the 1990s when Mexico was blessed with presidents educated in top U.S. universities. The Ivy League produced presidents — De La Madrid and Zedillo, from Harvard and Yale. These presidents wanted to take elections away from their own party, the 70-year-long in power Partido Revolucionario Institucional  (PRI). They succeeded and the first ever non-PRI President — Vicente Fox — was elected in 2000. The PRI candidate actually ran third.

In 2006, Fox’s Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) party nominated Felipe Calderon and he beat Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) after a recount of half of all election districts chosen at random. 

The INE recount supported the victory.

AMLO was furious. He declared the election results null and void. He claimed he won in a landslide. He denounced the INE’s recount and administration of the election. He “appointed” party cronies to invisible cabinet and administration positions and declared his was the only legitimate government of Mexico. He ordered massive protests in city business districts that cost Mexico billions of business and taxes. 

He traveled throughout Mexico claiming he was robbed. He was Donald Trump before Donald Trump; he did that 14 years before Trump claimed he was robbed. 

Where AMLO was different from Trump is that as President — after winning his third try for President in 2018 — allowed him to attack the INE with all the resources of the Mexican government. 

Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have a supermajority in the two house Congress that would have enabled him to dump the INE from the Constitution. He tried, when that failed, he tried a “Plan B” to run around the Constitution and to replace the INE with his own agency filled with staff elected by the people, an election dominated by his political party. That didn’t work either. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled the attempt unconstitutional.

In summary, the Mexican elections system is marginally better than the American one. We would be one step better if we created a voter ID card like the Mexicans have. Proof of citizenship would be nice to get one. Similar ballots should be considered simplifying national counting. 

One last note: Some Americans whine about my interest in Mexican elections; to them I say, forget about it. I am a dual American and Mexican citizen. I vote in American elections. I do not vote in Mexico. 

However, I believe Americans should pay attention to what goes on in Mexico. 35 millions of Americans have roots in Mexico; Mexico is our largest trading partner and a large cohort of Mexican origin men and women have chosen to serve or are serving in our military, that, by the million, me included. Semper Fi!                  ### ###

Contreras is a U.S. Marine veteran, a political consultant, author, editorialist for newspapers and magazines and hosts the Contreras Report on YouTube and Roku television 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.