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Mexicans vote for new president

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United States
Mexico
Vicente Fox
Mexico City (Mexico)

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexicans head to the polls Sunday for a presidential election that political observers have pegged as a tight race to find a successor for leader Vicente Fox.

The polls open at 9 a.m. ET and close 12 hours later. There are about 71 million registered voters.

Fox, of the National Action Party, or PAN, is nearing the close of a six-year term that saw him end a 71-year grip on political rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

The three major candidates are Felipe Calderon from the PAN party, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist former Mexico City mayor and Roberto Madrazo from the PRI.

Regardless of who is elected, Mexican-U.S. relations will be dominated, as in the recent past, by the issues of immigration, trade, drug trafficking, the war on terror and security along the 2,000-mile border separating the longtime neighbors.

About 85 percent of the illegal immigrants streaming into the United States are from Mexico, which is the United States' third-largest trading partner.

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