Monday, July 10, 2006

Mexico: Irregularities

The Guardian reports that a huge number of ballots were officially recorded as having been left blank.
As we found in Florida in 2000, my investigations team on the ground in Mexico City this week found voters in poor neighbourhoods, the left's turf, complaining that their names were "disappeared" from the voter rolls. ChoicePoint can't know what use the Bush crew makes of its lists. But erased registrations require us to ask, before this vote is certified, was there a purge as there was in Florida?

Notably, ruling party operatives carried registration lists normally in the hands of elections officials only. (In Venezuela in 2004, during the special election to recall President Hugo Chavez, I saw his opponents consulting laptops with voter lists. Were these the purloined FBI files? The Chavez government suspects so but, victorious, won't press the case.)

There's more that the Mexico vote has in common with Florida besides the heat. The ruling party's hand-picked electoral commission counted a mere 402,000 votes more for their candidate, Felipe Calderón, over challenger Andrés Manuel López Obrador. That's noteworthy in light of the surprise showing of candidate Señor Blank-o (the 827,000 ballots supposedly left "blank").

The margin of the election was slighly over 200,000 votes, with 827,000 blank, if the packets were reopened for a hand recount, assuming that the 827,000 were not actually blank (why would someone bother submitting a ballot if they weren't going to fill it out?*), Obrador would need to win by roughly 500,000 to 300,000 in order to essentially tie up the race assuming that nothing else changed after the packets were re-opened. The irregularities may be nothing more than simple mechanical errors which happen, but there is sufficient reason to believe that the result might change with the votes recounted by hand.

*All offices were separated and on different ballots, the ballots were not like US ballots in which one votes for President, Senate, House... on a different line on the same ballot, they were actually different ballots. Furthermore we already know that in some areas in the South more votes were recorded for lesser offices than for the Presidency suggesting that either votes were thrown out in these areas, not counted, or counted as "blank" ballots.

**I don't know why the Guardian reports the margin as 400,000, this is just not true, the margin was about 240,000 votes. Perhaps they got their information before the 500,000 ballots not counted until Wednesday were counted which dropped Calderon's lead from slightly over 1% to 0.64%, then the retabulation dropped Calderon's lead to 0.59%, so the Guardian must have had old information regarding Calderon's margin, with the margin less than they think, their case is even stronger.

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