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mexican elections

Eduardo Puga (right), with the National Electoral Institute (INE), Mexico’s highest electoral authority, at the Chicago Consulate General of Mexico with team members Ariadnna Cruz Ortiz and Antonio García Osorio. They were getting ready to welcome voters June 2 during the Mexican presidential elections.

Adriana Cardona-Maguigad/WBEZ

Chicago Mexican nationals to cast votes in historic presidential election

For the first time, Mexicans abroad can vote in person at locations around the world.

Chicago resident Mercedes Guzman will vote for the first time on June 2, in this year’s historic Mexican presidential election at the Consulate General of Mexico on South Ashland Ave. Like thousands of other Mexican nationals in the Chicago area, Guzman is finding a new sense of excitement.

Guzman, who lives in the West Pullman neighborhood, plans to head to the Consulate early on Sunday morning with her 74-year-old mother, who is visiting from Mexico.

“I registered to vote in person because I really wanted to be there. I have never participated,” Guzman, 41, said in Spanish. She is originally from Michoacan, Mexico. “The moment is very emotional.”

This election is the first time Mexicans abroad are able to vote by mail, electronically or in person across 23 locations around the world including several U.S cities. After Los Angeles, Chicago has the second highest number of Mexicans registered to vote in the country followed by New York City, according to Eduardo Puga with the National Electoral Institute (INE), the highest electoral authority in Mexico. Puga calculates that some 10,560 Mexicans in the Chicago area registered to cast a ballot.

For the first time in history, two Mexican women are the top candidates. Claudia Sheinbaum is maintaining a comfortable lead in the polls. Sheinbaum is expected to continue the policies of outgoing but popular president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. She is also the first Jewish candidate to run in a mostly Catholic country.

Sheinbaum’s main challenger, Xóchitl Gàlvez, is an opposition candidate who has been a fierce critic of Lopez Obrador. Trailing both women is Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who represents the Citizen Movement Party.

Many Mexican nationals living in Chicago say the issues most important to them include economic and social benefits for senior citizens, education, U.S.-Mexico relations and safety. They say they are excited to have a louder voice and help chart a path forward in an election overshadowed by cartel violence.

“I really feel very proud,” Puga said in Spanish. “The INE has opened this wide range of possibilities to [Mexican] citizens. I also have family members who will be able to exercise their vote.”

Experts say in this historic election, Mexicans living abroad are paying a lot more attention to the political landscape in their home country. They are starting to see the potential for political engagement.

That’s particularly meaningful, said Lilia Fernandez, a history professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, “when many are not able to vote here in Chicago and local state or federal elections because either of undocumented status or because they’re not U.S. citizens.

“Mexicans are a significant part of Chicago,” Fernandez said. “They provide an enormous amount of the labor here in the workforce, and unfortunately they think they really are underrepresented and do not have the kind of political empowerment that they could have.”

Adriana Cardona-Maguigad covers immigration for WBEZ. Follow her on X @AdrianaCardMag.

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