OGDEN -- People from Michoacan, Mexico, make up a large portion of the Latinos living in Utah, and this year, they will have an opportunity to vote in that state's elections.
Although they have made a new life in the Beehive State, many still have families back there and are an integral part of the economic stability of the state.
For that reason, the state election commission has opened up voting to Michoacan citizens living abroad.
"The people are the essence of a place," said Martha Lopez, the public affairs director for the Voto de los Michoacanos, the group that is helping people vote in the Michoacan state elections.
"People can't lose sight of what is happening in their community."
To participate, residents must have registered to vote in Michoacan.
Eligible voters can get a copy of the application at the Mexican consulate at 1380 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, or online at www.votamichoacan.org.mx. When submitting the application, eligible voters must include photocopies of the front and back of their voter registration identification card.
Some are concerned that their card is old and invalid, but Lopez said it will still work as long as it has a photograph.
"They are not expired if they have a photo," Lopez said of the cards.
Applications must be postmarked by July 6 to be accepted. Voters will receive their mail-in ballots by September or October to participate in the Nov. 13 election.
Ogden resident Jose Luis Prado is not registered to vote in Michoacan, but would like to have participated in his home state's election.
"I think it is good to be able to participate to ensure that things improve in Michoacan," Prado said.
Although Michoacan officials have opened up the election to citizens living outside the country, there are still many problems with the process.
Voters cannot register to vote while living outside of the state. To be eligible, residents must have registered in Mexico. Many left Michoacan when they were too young to register to vote or for whatever reason no longer have a voter registration card.
Voting can be done only in Michoacan or by mail-in ballot. Unlike the recent Peru elections, which had a polling place in Utah for citizens, Mexicans do not have the same options.
While Mexican citizens can vote in national Mexican elections, most cannot vote in their state elections.
"Michoacan is at this moment the only one that does it," Lopez said.
The next state election in Michoacan is in 2015. Lopez hopes, by then, many issues will be ironed out and the voting process will be easier.
For more information, visit the website or call toll-free to Mexico at 866-247-9183.