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Mexican Consul General explains electoral system in address at JCCC

As the date to register for Mexico’s largest-ever election draws closer, Kansas City’s head consul of Mexico visited Johnson County Community College in Overland Park to discuss the country’s electoral system and how Mexican citizens can involve themselves.

Kansas City Mexican Consul General Alfonso Navarro-Bernachi told attendees, which included students, faculty and community members from both sides of the state line, that a record-number of voters are registered in Mexico ahead of the July 1 Election Day.

“There are nearly 88 million registered voters in Mexico, which is almost 9 million greater than in our last election in 2012,” Navarro-Bernachi said at the beginning of his presentation, adding that roughly half of those registered are under the age of 40. “More than 150,000 ballot stations will be set up across the country, and all of them will be manned by citizen volunteers.”

There are 3,406 governmental positions up for grabs this year spanning regions, states, and municipalities, from mayors to senators to representatives to the Mexican presidency. Mexico’s president and legislators will be sworn in on Dec. 1.

Mexican citizens have until March 31 to register to vote, and more than half a million Mexicans living in the United States have already applied for the voter identification credentials necessary to vote in early July, according to Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE). According to the INE, it’s the highest number recorded in more than a decade.

Mexican citizens living abroad can apply for a tamper-proof voter identification card, which features a thumbprint and hologram, but must supply proof of citizenship. Mexican citizens living in Kansas City must apply for the ID card at the Consulate General in Kansas City.

“We are actively trying to disseminate this information to the Mexican community here,” Navarro-Bernachi said. “We want them to be aware of what is going on this Election Day, and learn about how the process is carried out.”

Navarro-Bernachi declined to answer questions from the audience about the 2018 candidates for each party, as well as their stances on issues, saying his role was only to share information on how to get registered to vote, as well as a general overview on the size and scope of this year’s elections.

Sofia Paredes, an instructor at the University of St. Mary, told KC Hispanic News that she brought students from her classes as well as the college’s Spanish Club, in the hopes that they would learn more about the interconnectivity between the U.S. and Mexico. Her students said they found Navarro-Bernachi’s visit informative.

“We’d like to become more knowledgeable about the Mexican government,” said Felipe Chavez, a University of St. Mary student. “Most of us aren’t up to date with the government of our people and the country of our parents.”

Chavez’ classmate, student Enrique Gonzalez, told KC Hispanic News he agreed.

“I didn’t know about the government of Mexico, and we need to know how it works. This is my country,” Gonzalez said.

JCCC President Joe Sopcich, who was in attendance at the presentation, said he is proud of the college’s relationship with the Mexican Consulate General.

“I never knew we had a Mexican Consulate in Kansas City until we became involved with them,” Sopcich said, adding that the office grants scholarships for students who attend JCCC. “The consul office has been a terrific partner for our college. They make our campus community a better community for the entire Kansas City region.” For more information on the 2018 general election in Mexico, or to apply for a voter ID card, visit https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/kansascity/ or call (816) 556-0800.