Mexicans vote in historic election as lines stretch around consulates in US

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Thousands of Mexican citizens living in the U.S. lined up to vote at the country’s consulates on Sunday, participating in a historic vote that is likely to elect the country’s first female president.

Voters began lining up outside the Mexican consulate in Dallas as early as 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning to cast their vote, The Dallas Morning News reported. In Orlando, the line to vote stretched multiple miles.

The critical presidential election is to decide who will replace outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist whose nationalist stances have defined an on-and-off again relationship with the U.S.

The race’s front-runner is former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who is from López Obrador’s Morena party and received his endorsement, though questions about her background have left some wondering if she will fully follow in his footsteps.

Sheinbaum faces a pair of rivals: Xóchitl Gálvez from the opposition alliance led by the conservative National Action Party and Jorge Álvarez Máynez from the minor Citizens’ Movement.

Either Sheinbaum or Gálvez would be the country’s first female president, and Sheinbaum its first Jewish head of state.

Gálvez trails Sheinbaum by double digits in polls of the race, with Máynez’s support falling below 10 percent.

This election marks the first that Mexicans living abroad in the U.S., Canada, Spain and France can vote in-person at Mexican consulates. Citizens could previously vote by mail or electronically.

There are nearly a million Mexican citizens eligible to vote in the Dallas metropolitan area alone, according to the census. Thousands turned out across the U.S. on Sunday, with violence among the top concerns of voters.

Violence in parts of the country has already hampered election day, with about a fifth of polling places not open three hours after the scheduled time, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Just less than 60 percent of polling places opened on time, electoral officials said.

Many of the delayed polling places were in the Chiapas region, near the border with Guatemala, the center of the country’s most severe gang violence.

Local candidates have been killed in Chiapas in recent days, and one man was kidnapped from a Chiapas polling place Sunday and later found beaten, the AP reported. At least 28 candidates have been killed this election season nationwide, according to human rights organization Data Civica.

All 628 seats in Mexico’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies are also up for election, adding weight to the vote’s importance. About 100 million people are expected to go to the polls nationwide.

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