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7 million Mexicans may not be able to vote on July 1

January 15, 2012

With a large chunk of Mexico’s democracy at stake, Congress asked the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) on Wednesday to make a one-off exception allowing seven million voters whose credentials have expired to cast their ballots in the July 1 elections.

The IFE responded on Thursday saying it does not have the authority to make such a decision, and must comply with the Federal Code for Electoral Procedures and Institutions (COFIPE) that was approved by Congress.

If no agreement is made, those whose IFE card numbers end in 03 will find themselves unable to vote, unless they renew their cards by the January 15 deadline. The number of people affected could be as high as seven million, or 8.3 percent of registered voters.

Potentially only 77 million of the 84 million Mexicans registered with IFE would be able to vote. Such a huge figure of disenfranchised voters could have a massive impact on the outcome of the election. The last presidential election in 2006 was decided by just 243,934 ballots, equivalent to 0.56 percent of the vote.

Cards with numbers ending in 03 were no longer valid as of December 31, 2011. Since then, 2,500 modules have been opened across the country where citizens can renew their cards. Yet in the first week of the year just 37,700 renewal applications were reported to have been received.

The IFE says it has run an aggressive campaign since 2007 asking citizens to renew their cards – which are valid for only ten years – with a daily average of up to 100,000 people re-registering in the past few days.

Earlier this month, IFE held a press conference saying that in reality no more than two million people are at risk of not being able to vote. The rest, they say, have either died, are missing, or have emigrated since the last election.

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