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La Ley Seca: Voting a sober affair in Mexico

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Liquor sales shut down 48 hours this weekend for Election Day. Photo: La Fundación Mezcaleria
Liquor sales shut down 48 hours this weekend for Election Day. Photo: La Fundación Mezcaleria

Mexico restricts the sale of alcohol 24 hours before elections and all of election day, a law that dates to 1915, the time of the Mexican Revolution.

With the midterm election coming Sunday, June 7, if you want to keep your bar shelf stocked this weekend, you have until Friday. In bars and restaurants, last call will be 11:30 Friday, a half hour before la ley seca, national dry laws, apply.

It’s not just sales. Public consumption of alcohol is banned this weekend as well. Anyone caught breaking the law faces hefty fines.

The law is meant to ensure that elections are held with the highest degree of decorum. Emotions can run high, and officials want to ensure liquor doesn’t fuel violence.

Cantinas, like El Grillon, will be closed this weekend under Election Day laws. Photo: Flickr
Cantinas, like El Grillon, will be closed this weekend under Election Day laws. Photo: Flickr

La Ley Seca used to be enforced nationally, but since 2007 it is left to the authorities of each state to determine whether or not they will apply it. Some, like Quintana Roo, apply the law to Sunday only, and let hotels and restaurants serve all weekend if the drinks accompany food. Yucatán state enforces all 48 hours. Liquor sales resume 11 a.m. Monday.

Up for grabs Sunday are 500 seats in Congress; nine governorships and 1,532 local contests including a mayoral race in Mérida.

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