A few words with Patricio Ballados, Executive Director of Political Parties and
Prerrogatives, National Electoral Institute, Mexico:
Mexico has implemented compulsory voting. What are your opinions on the same?
The Constitution of Mexico provides for compulsory voting but it does not enforce
it by putting penalties if it is not followed. In my opinion, compulsory voting
is not necessarily a good thing too. Choosing a candidate is an important and empowering
process and should be done with complete confidence. By forcing the people to choose
a candidate only because they have to is not a situation we want. Voting for a candidate
should be attractive in itself and the voters should be interested to participate
in this process independent of any force to protect the voters from the tyranny
of the parties taking advantage of this incentive. Voting and participations in elections
should not be seen as an obligation but as a right.
Being the first country in Latin America to introduce internet voting, what takeaway
or suggestion can you give others nations in this regard?
It is a gradual process; to make too much happen too fast can be detrimental and
counter effective. Internet acts as an important means to communicate and create
awareness amongst people. In Mexico, a lot of transactions are done electronically.
So if people trust the internet with their money, they will trust it with their
votes too. Till the time we are not confident enough that we are protected
from unwanted and undesirable elements that can harm us and our rights over the
cyber space, we should not implement such a tool.
Any challenges that Mexico has faced which is can be a universal problem?
One of the issues I plan to talk about in my presentation tomorrow deals with the
issue of overseas voting. In Mexico, we reformed the Constitution to make overseas
voting available. It is essential that when we introduce a tool like that,
we take certain steps to ensure that the citizens of our country whom this initiative
directly affects, know of it as well and utilize it well. This is a pervasive problem
that we really need to speak of.