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Global Knowledge Network On Voter Education - learning from each other

Interaction with Patricio Ballados,Mexico - by Shreya Bansal, Intern

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.