This column was contributed by resident Francisco Diaz. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
Mexico is one of the most diverse places in the world. With a population of about 126 million, Mexico is the 10th most populated country in the world. The history of democracy in Mexico dates to the establishment of the federal republic of Mexico in 1824.
Legislative elections were held in Mexico on June 6. The election consisted of 30 state congresses, 1,900 town halls, Mexico City borough mayors, municipal boards, and municipal presidents. I was granted permission to serve as an election observer by the National Electoral Institute (INE) regional director of the municipality of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos. It is a municipality with around 38,000 registered voters located near the city of Guadalajara.
I was excited on election day and reached the polling location half an hour before the official starting time. However, the opening of the polling location was delayed due to confusion in setting up election reference material but the polling captain and INE officials diligently resolved the matter.
Voters showed great vigor and zeal and showed up in large numbers to vote. In the morning, the election process was a bit slow but as the sun set and the afternoon approached, the polling location was teemed with people. They were made to wait in line for about half an hour before they voted.
Political parties are widely involved in Mexico during the elections. Here, all the 10 parties had their observers present at the polling location and they had the right to object any decision that was perceived as unfair or doubtful. In order to object, one party would have to file a protest. If this protest was legal and the opposite party was found to be involved in wrongdoings, their votes would be removed. In one of the polling locations that I visited, the polling was delayed by 45 minutes because the parties, the election captain, and elections officials were solving a conflict.
Closing of the polls was rather interesting but tiresome as the person counting the ballots had to do it manually. More tiresome because of the fact that the counting was done thrice to ensure everything was fair. Sometimes if the party on the losing end objected, then they would have to count the ballots again.
Due to this counting and re-counting of ballots, the closing of polls was delayed by three hours. Once the results were confirmed and everyone agreed to them, the polling locations were closed.
Finally, the ballots were escorted in a 21-car caravan to the central counting location. The unofficial result was announced around 12 a.m. This was followed by huge celebrations in central plaza where more than 5,000 people were present to roar and cheer for their party.
This was just a short summary of a 17-hour long day. The election system in Mexico is nearly identical to the one that is present in our country, just that Mexico relies far less on technology.
For me, this was one heck of an experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The best moment was indeed when senior citizens and those with disabilities were allowed to break line and vote before the others. This really was a heartwarming experience.
Watch a video on the San Benito County Elections Facebook page where I answer several questions on this experience.