News Top

Elections in Mexico: free and private

A citizen casts his ballot at a poll in Matamoros, Mexico on Sunday. (Samantha Esquivel/YJI)

MEXICO – Every voting booth in Mexico shares one similarity, an assuring quote that states, “El voto es libre y secreto” – the vote is free and private.

A sign at the poll saying “the vote is free and private.” (Samantha Esquivel/YJI)

Mexico, like many other countries, is a democracy, with a slight variation in its voting process to ensure its elections are indeed free and private. 

For instance, the government is not allowed to be involved in any electoral process and the elections are run by the Mexican citizens.

“We were chosen by a draft and someone from the INE came looking for me afterwards to ask me if I wanted to participate,” said Laura Cecilia Alvarado Sánchez, who served as first secretary of her voting district in her native city Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

Laura Cecelia Alvarado Sanchez, a volunteer at a polling site in Matamoros, Mexico. (Samantha Esquivel/YJI)

The INE, an acronym for Instituto Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Institute), is in charge of organizing every electoral process in Mexico, as well as to keep the elections clean and fair. The INE is independent from the government.

When asked why she decided to accept the invitation to be part of the voting booth officials of her district Alvarado said, “it’s my civic contribution and I very much like being part of the democratic movement that my country is living in.”

Alberto Ledezma, a university student in Mexico City, was also invited to participate as a voting booth official.

“I accepted for no particular reason, it just felt like the right thing to do,” said Ledezma. 

Alvarado was in charge of counting the federal election ballots for the president, senators, and deputies. She learned how to do this in just one hour of training.

Yet due to staffing complications on the day of the elections, she ended up taking the unexpected role of first secretary.

The training she got for the secretary post “was good but not excellent, but I think it was enough,” said Alvarado.

For Mexicans to vote, they have to look for their voting district on their INE ID and on the institute’s official website.

Ballot boxes are transparent. (Samantha Esquivel/YJI)

On the Election Day, citizens at each polling site are divided by alphabetical groups based on their last name to speed up the waiting time. 

Voting officials provide the corresponding ballots, and inside the booth, citizens choose who they want as their next president, governor, senate and deputy.

But if the form is not filled or filled incorrectly, it becomes null and doesn’t count.

According to the National Election Institute, this year around 2% of votes were null votes.

After the citizens vote and turn in their ballot, their thumb is marked with indelible ink that will remain on the skin for a couple of days. It only disappears as new skin naturally grows to replace the marked skin. This is to prevent the same person from voting more than once.

Ballots used by voters in the city of Matamoros, Mexico on Sunday. (Samantha Esquivel/YJI)

To incentivize voting, businesses like movie theaters, pizza places and coffee shops offer free items to people who show their marked thumbs as proof that they voted. For instance, Starbucks and Oxxo gave free coffee to those who showed their marked thumb as proof they voted. 

Whoever the vote goes to and for whatever reason, it’s significant to vote.

“Everyone has different needs and issues,” said Ledezma. “If you want them to be heard, you have to vote.”

“Ultimately, if you don’t vote, it is like letting others choose for you the candidate,” said Alvarado. “So, I believe it’s important to vote and vote with knowledge.”

Samantha Esquivel is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Matamoros, Mexico. She is a co-author of this story.

Regina López is a Senior Correspondent with Youth Journalism International from Mexico City. She is a co-author of this story.

More from YJI about Mexico’s elections:

Leave a Comment