Juan Castro is voting for two presidents this year: one for the United States and another for Mexico. “I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for,” said the San Jose resident. “To tell you the truth, the three main candidates who are running are worthless, more of the same.” He’s talking about the Mexican election. The three-month campaign for Mexico’s July 1 presidential and congressional election officially began Friday. “They’re all career politicians. As far as parties, they’re all the same.” Still, four decades after he moved to the United States, the municipal accountant at Sunnyvale City Hall is one of more than 12,000 Mexican-Americans in California who have registered to vote in the election, a fraction of the nearly 4 million eligible.
Will Mexican-American voters make a difference if there’s a close election to replace outgoing President Felipe Calderon? Not as much as they could, says Hector Tajonar, professor at UC San Diego’s Center for Mexican-American Studies. “I don’t think they will have any influence, any important influence, unfortunately,” Tajonar said. The election is an important one that will affect the tone of cross-border relations, trade, immigration and the war on criminal cartels for the rest of the decade.
Almost all of the Mexican-born immigrants in California are eligible to vote in Mexico, but a cumbersome registration diminishes their sway. To register to vote by mail from abroad, prospective voters must travel to Mexico, file papers at an election office to get a voter ID card, and then wait.