MEXICO CITY—Turnout was higher than usual as millions of voters across Mexico cast ballots for president in a decision that could return the former ruling PRI party to power.
"Excited! Yes. I like it," said Peggy Jaramillo, an election observer from Dallas. Jaramillo traveled to Mexico City with a group of immigrants. She voted by mail for Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI, Institutional Revolutionary Party.
"I think it’s a new PRI," said Jaramillo."There are young people in the PRI".
But two women voters who lined up early at a polling station in the La Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City disagreed.
"It’s a new PRI with the same people," said Mayte Rosas Gomez. Her friend agreed. "It’s a new image of the same party. It’s marketing," said Erica Villanueva.
More than half of all registered voters are women. Both cast ballots for the National Action Party, PAN candidate Josefina Vasquez Mota who, according to polls ahead of the election, was in third place trailing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD Party. Lopez Obrador narrowly lost the 2006 election to President Calderon.
Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI had a double digit lead over both candidates. If the trend holds his victory will usher in the return the party that ruled Mexico for 71.
Along the border special polling stations set up for immigrant voters were crowded all day. Many Mexicans who moved to the U.S. to escape violent crime in border cities, crossed into Mexico to cast ballots.
The Mexican government sent extra soldiers to patrol the streets of Nuevo Laredo on election day after a car bomb went off in front of City Hall.
More than 50,000 people lost their lives during the Calderon administration the past six years. Many voters believe the PRI will restore peace by cutting a deal with drug traffickers.
"If the PRI wins they would probably go back to their old ways. They would probably make alliances with the narcos, drug dealers," said Villanueva as she walked away from the polling station with her Yorkshire terrier.