By MARK ALEXANDER
Special to Pulse News Mexico
Democrats Abroad Mexico (DAMC) — the Mexican branch of the international organization Democrats Abroad that unites U.S. citizens who support the Democratic Party — held its national convention in Puebla over the May 12-13 weekend.
Attendance for the event was strong, about 35 members from across Mexico, driven by the ever-mounting controversy and emotional turmoil of the organization’s members as a result of their dismay and dissatisfaction with the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
The members were also motivated by the enormous importance of the upcoming midterm elections in November, in which the representation of the U.S. Congress, now with a Republican majority, could change dramatically.
“It’s the vote that counts. And if you vote, you can make a difference,” said Erik Markeset, president of the DA Mexico City chapter.
Democrats Abroad Mexico National President Larry Phil convened the meeting on Saturday, May 12, at the Hotel Colonial in Puebla’s historic center, with the theme of “Getting Out The Vote.”
The primary purpose of Democrats Abroad is to register U.S. citizen voters who live outside the United States, regardless of their party preference.
Phil pointed out that “Mexico poses an enormous challenge and opportunity for DA since Mexico has the largest number of U.S. citizens living abroad who have the right to vote, but who do not exercise or know how to exercise that right.”
The purpose of Democrats Abroad is to help these U.S. citizens exercise their voting privileges, he said.
“Depending on who you ask, the number of U.S. citizens in Mexico ranges between 1 and 2 million,” Phil said.
“This includes U.S. retirees living in Mexico, as well as Mexican nationals who are dual citizens, born in the United States and now returned to living in Mexico.”
Also attending the convention was longtime Mexico City resident and retired American School teacher Julie Juliano.
Juliano has been helping U.S. citizens vote from abroad for over 20 years.
“Voting is by state, and you have to be registered to vote in the state where you last lived in order to receive a ballot and be able to submit a vote for the November midterm elections,” she said.
“Registrations must be done every year. And every state has its own registration regulations. But in all cases, one must be registered in your state to able to receive a ballot and vote from abroad.”
Referring especially to those of Mexican descent, Markeset said: “Let me be clear, if you were born in the United States, you have the right to vote. But you must register first. You can do it online at either http://www.FVAP.gov or http://www.votefromabroad.org. Both online sites will get you to the state where you last lived and enable you to register. Your actual ballot will then be emailed to you with instructions about how to send it in to your state.”
The keynote speaker at the convention was Michael Hais, a professor from the Brookings Institute and Puerto Vallarta resident.
Hais talked about “how millennials are the United States’ best hope for the future.”
“Millennials have a great desire to protect the planet, the ecology and individual values, including universal health care and affordable college,” he said.
Two new services announced during the convention were a Spanish version of the website and a personalized “concierge program” through which DA member volunteers assist citizens through the registration process.
U.S. midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Up for grabs are all U.S. House of Representative seats (435) and a third of U.S. Senate seats (33).
To be able to vote, you must have registered in your state prior to the election. Registration deadlines are usually 30 to 60 days before the election.
Once registered, many states allow you to vote via email or fax, but in some cases the ballot must be sent by registered mail.
Mark Alexander is a member of Democrats Abroad Mexico. He is the treasurer for the organization’s Mexico City chapter.