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Thousands of Mexican voters wait hours in Dallas to choose their next president

More than 4,000 Mexicans living in North Texas came to the Mexican Consulate in Dallas on Sunday to cast their votes in a historic election for their country.

Around 3:30 am people started arriving to get a spot in line, ranging from the elderly to entire families with their children. They camped out with lawn chairs, snacks and drinks to participate in what some called a “democratic party.”

For the first time in the country’s history, the two candidates for president are women. Claudia Sheinbaum, 61, of Morena, the country’s ruling party, and her opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, 60, of the Partido Acción Nacional, or PAN. And there is a male candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez of Movimiento Ciudadano.

FILE - This combination image shows opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez, left, on...
FILE – This combination image shows opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez, left, on July 4, 2023, and presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, on May 29, 2024, both in Mexico City. Voters choosing Mexico’s next president will choose on Sunday, June 2, 2024, between Sheinbaum, a former mayor and academic, and Galvez, an ex-senator and technology entrepreneur. A third candidate from a smaller party follows far behind. (AP photo/file)(Fernando Llano / Eduardo Verdugo / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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Mexico will elect a new president and 628 members of Congress. Nearly 20,000 positions will be elected in 32 states, including local congressmen, mayors, councils and nine governorships.

Voters of all ages spoke with The Dallas Morning News on the topics that matter most to them. From violence in Mexico and its roads to immigration and pensions for the elderly.

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‘It is our duty to vote’

Irma Loreto, from Baja California, arrived at the consulate at 4:30 a.m. to secure her spot.

“I wanted to be the first to vote, but when we arrived there were already people in line,” said Loreto, who lives in Plano. “Claudia (Sheinbaum) is the best-prepared candidate and she will continue the work of our president.”

This is the first time people can vote for president in person in select Mexican consulates in the US, Canada, Spain and France. Voters had the option to cast their votes by mail or electronically.

The consulate in Dallas opened its doors to voters at 9 a.m., with eight electronic machines to cast ballots for Mexicans living in North Texas. People lined up around the building and the surrounding parking lot was full.

Jorge Gonzalez Aguirre, 42, arrived at 7:30 am. He and his wife decided to take their two children to teach them about the democratic process. The couple grew up going to the polls with their parents, and they wanted their daughters to do the same.

“I believe every vote counts,” said Gonzalez Aguirre, who lives in Denton and is from Nuevo León. “It is our right and our duty as Mexicans to participate in this democratic party.”

Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico holds...
Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico is holding its legislative elections and the country is about to elect its first female president. Mexicans living abroad and registered to vote were able to cast their votes. (Anja Schlein / Special Contributor)

Mexicans living abroad had to register to vote. Only 968 people registered to vote in person, according to Diego Espinoza, the National Electoral Institute representative in Dallas.

For those who have not registered, the institute has opened 1,500 polling stations in every consulate around the world for Mexicans who have their ID. Most of the people in line at the consulate in Dallas had not registered to vote. The registration deadline was in February.

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Why they voted

In Dallas County, 564,023 Mexicans age 18 and older are eligible to participate in the elections. Tarrant County has 361,251 eligible, followed by Denton County with 93,651, and 83,997 Mexican citizens call Collin County home, according to the 2022 American Survey.

“It’s so beautiful to see all these families lined up, and I’m sure there are more missing,” said Emilia Flore Elizondo, 57, of Durango. “I hope this is a lesson for people to register to vote early.”

People showed up with Mexican flags wrapped around them, and others wore the jerseys of the Mexican soccer team. At times, voters outside the main entrance chanted “Viva Mexico, fuera la corrupción.” “Long live Mexico, get rid of corruption.”

“That’s why I decided to come very early,” said María de Jesus Ramirez, who lives in Oak Cliff and is from San Luis Potosí. “I wanted to make sure I have a place and vote for change.”

For Ramirez, 78, uncertainty is the main issue driving her decision on the candidates. Her family suffered road violence in Mexico while traveling from the U.S. to her state, she said.

There have been a high number of disappearances, kidnappings, extortions and shootings of people traveling from the US to Mexico, forcing many Mexican nationals to travel back to their country by plane or join caravans.

According to the Mexican federal government, approximately 99,729 people in the country are currently missing and have not been found. In Tamaulipas, the border state with Laredo, where many families drive to Mexico, 13,012 people are missing in January 2024.

In early 2023, two separate groups of Americans were kidnapped in Tamaulipas within two weeks of each other. One group consisted of three Mexican-American women from Texas who were kidnapped after crossing the border into Tamaulipas.

Graciela Lindero, 69, of Ciudad Juarez, and her husband, Francisco Lindero, 59, of Ciudad de México, wore hats from Morena. One hat featured a cartoon of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, the current president.

“This is the change Mexico needs. We are hopeful that the new generations in Mexico will not have to migrate like we did,” said Graciela Lindero, who has lived in Dallas for 30 years.

The Lindero family said they supported AMLO and his movement because the party supports the rights of the elderly. In keeping with Mexican tradition, the family planned to eat menudo immediately after casting their vote.

“The PRI and PAN have stolen from us for years,” says Francisco Lindero. “AMLO ensures that we receive our pensions and supports us. Claudia is going to do the same.”

Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico holds...
Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico is holding its legislative elections and the country is about to elect its first female president. Mexicans living abroad and registered to vote were able to cast their votes. (Anja Schlein / Special Contributor)

‘Too much corruption’

For some female voters, having a female president is a victory for the country, but the current candidates on the ballot are not ideal, said Daniela Alanis Serrano, 28, of Nuevo Leon.

“The two female candidates are not the best option. The male candidate acted like an influencer the entire time,” said Alanis Serrano, who has lived in Dallas for two years. “I don’t want any of these people representing me. I want a candidate who has an eye for people and the environment.”

For Andoni Rementeria, who has lived in Dallas for two years, the ruling party Morena must leave because there is ‘too much corruption’.

“I came to vote today because it is my duty and because I want change in Mexico. We cannot allow this outrageous corruption to continue,” said Rementeria, a 27-year-old from Veracruz.

As temperatures climbed into the mid-80s on Sunday, Mexicans in line pulled out umbrellas, and some left the line to buy food at nearby restaurants.

Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico holds...
Voters at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Mexico is holding its legislative elections and the country is about to elect its first female president. Mexicans living abroad and registered to vote were able to cast their votes. (Anja Schlein / Special Contributor)

Ivan Bracamontes, from Sinaloa, was among many people angry and complaining about the limit of 1,500 votes available to those who had not registered to vote.

“This shouldn’t be like this,” said Bracamontes, 25. “Why is the government restricting our rights?”

Polls in Dallas close at 7 p.m. and results are sent to Mexico City, where all ballots from around the world and Mexico are counted. At 8 p.m. the preliminary results will be announced and Mexico will have its president for the next six years.

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