Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mass Action Follows Mexico's Election Tribunal's Order of Only a Partial Recount

Supporters of Manuel Lopez Obrador have stormed the streets of Mexico City and threatened to occupy the airport after only a partial recount of the disputed July 2 presidential election was ordered by the Federal Electoral Tribunal.

"Vote by Vote!" chants drowned out the judge's statements as the decision was announced on television. A recount of 12,000 polling places was ordered, while claims of arithmetical errors in at least 72,000 have been raised. Lopez Obrador has appealed for calm, but the situation remains unstable.

Lopez Obrador and his supporters have occupied the streets of Mexico City for several weeks. Over a million supporters massed last Sunday. The announced winner, Felipe Calderon, is a member of the ruling PAN party, and would likely continue the corporate-friendly practices of current president Vincente Fox. Lopez Obrador has called for policies to build Mexico's economy from within. His plans have been likened to those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Evidence of possible fraud were itemized at the Philadelphia Independent Media Center in an August 2 story by Jonathan David. The list includes (quote):
  • Mexican television news reporters hacked into the computers of the IFE and found that the IFE and PAN had been sharing data on registered voters before the election, in clear violation of the nation’s election laws.
  • Most exit polls showed AMLO [Lopez Obrador, from his initials "Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador"] ahead throughout the day of the election. In the preliminary vote count on the evening of the election, July 2, Calderón never trailed. (Ian Welsh, July 16, 2006)
  • The IFE preliminary results of the election showed Calderón ahead from the beginning. At first the margin of lead was by 7 %. As the night wore on, Calderón’s per cent lead declined to under 1 % but the actual number of votes that he remained ahead remained constant. Political scientists and statisticians have claimed that this irregularity is not really possible. Some have suggested that a silent algorithm may have been added to the computerized tallies. Others have suggested that the tally may have begun with Calderon having a pre-existing bank. (James K. Galbraith, "Doing Math In Mexico: While Mexicans take to the streets over the presidential vote, democracy's fairweather friends are standing silent.")
  • There was a significant drop off of votes for López Obrador as the actual ballot counting raced toward the finish line. “Vote drop offs” mean that while a ballot was caste and tallies were recorded for local officials and for legislators, no choice for presdent had been made. Thus, there were many more ballots caste than there were votes for president. Election specialists maintain that this kind of drop off never happens: voters are motivated to vote by the person at the top of the ticket, not by those at the bottom. (Ian Welsh, July 16, 2006)
  • All reports of ballot boxes that have been opened and recounted show that the recounts differ significantly from the official tally sheets (called acta-s) recorded on election day. The difference has been that López Obrador received more votes than officially noted and Calderón received fewer than recorded. Even New York Times, through its reporters Ginger Thompson and James C. McKinley Jr has noted this trend. (Ian Welsh, July 16, 2006)
  • Current President Vincente Fox of the PAN consulted on the telephone with the head of the electoral commission (IFE) on the night of the elections, in apparent violation of Mexico’s electoral laws.
  • López Obrador has turned over a 900 page document to the TRIFE of evidence of fraudulent practices close to half of Mexico’s 133,000 polling places. Aside from the evidence of massive vote drop off, ballots have been found in the trash on the side of roads videos made of workers stuffing ballet boxes and changing tallies sheets, recordings were made of telephone conversations between PRI and PAN workers to challenge PRD in some voting places, and the intervention of current President Vincente Fox. (Radio interview with Matt Pascarella podcast on KPFT)
  • In a potential conflict of interest, one of Calderón’s brother-in-laws co-founded a computer company named Hildebrando hired to do voter registration databases for the country showing manipulation of electoral system. (Pascarella)
  • Independent journalist Greg Pallast reports IFE hired the same computer company in the US that Jeb Bush used to remove 90,000 voters from Florida’s voter registration lists, in the name of removing felons.
  • While was not widespread, systematic, conspiratorial fraud, Josh Holland of Alternet writes, the clean election mechanisms that are new in Mexico were trumped by the old habits. The PRD is an outsider party. (Joshua Holland, “Mexico: Calderon Hasn’t Won” July 10th, 2006.) Perhaps the PRD’s status as an outsider party allowed insiders to manipulate tallies in individual polling places.

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