Mexico Voting Abroad May Require Bigger Budget, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- Future Mexico elections may require a larger budget to avoid the issues that citizens voting abroad experienced during this year’s presidential election, said the official in charge of the process.

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“If today I were faced with the situation and knowing what the behavior is and what is going to happen, of course we would require a much bigger budget for sending a lot more personnel, a lot more equipment,” said Cuitlahuac Osorio Ayllon, who oversaw the international voting process for Mexico’s federal elections agency.

Mexican citizens who casted their ballots from outside the country this year faced delays, and in some instances weren’t able to vote at all. Space constraints limited the number of voting machines in some consulates, leading to long wait times. In other cases, some voters were unfamiliar with the electronic voting system because ballots are cast on paper in Mexico.

There were also technical limitations. For example, the time difference for those in Europe allowed for votes to be cast up until midnight local time in some cases, versus the hard stop voters in the US faced at 6:30 pm Mexico Central Time when the system automatically shut down.

The budget for foreign voters in this year’s election was about 200 million Mexican pesos ($10.9 million), according to Osorio, who said it was too early to tell how much more funding would be needed in the future. It was also the first time citizens living abroad could vote in person in a presidential election.

Osorio is working on a preliminary report, and he said a formal one will appear before the electoral agency’s general counsel by August.

This year, 168,397 citizens voted from abroad, Osorio said, a more than 70% increase from the last presidential election.

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