Mexican election: People demanding a recount


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

In Mexico, 2.5 Million Missing Votes Reappear: López Obrador Reduces Calderón¹s 
Official Margin to 0.6 percent

IFE¹s Claim that 98.5 Percent of Votes Had Been Counted Was False: Authorities 
Now Oppose Recount

By Al Giordano
Part I of a Special Series for The Narco News Bulletin
July 5, 2006

Today, in Mexico, begins a ³recount² of votes cast in Sunday¹s presidential 
electionŠ in which the umpires are refusing to recount the votes.

Election authorities of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish 
initials) closed ranks on Tuesday with the National Action Party (PAN) of 
President Vicente Fox and candidate Felipe Calderón to oppose the actual 
recounting the votes. This, on the heels of Tuesday¹s ³discovery² of 2.5 million
votes hidden by IFE since Sunday¹s election, added to a growing body of evidence
­ and corresponding public distrust in the institutions ­ that a gargantuan 
electoral fraud has been perpetrated.

The partial ³recount² began at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, in Mexico¹s 300 election 
districts ­ each with an average of 400 polling places and 140,000 votes to 
tabulate ­ and sparks are already flying over the struggle to conduct an 
authentic count in the sunlight of public scrutiny. Attorneys and party bosses 
of the PAN ­ whose triumphalism has turned to visible panic in recent hours ­ 
have orders from headquarters to universally oppose the reopening of any ballot 
boxes and subsequent public accounting of the actual number of votes cast for 
each candidate. On the other side, representatives of the Democratic Revolution 
Party (PRD) of candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and many outraged citizens 
armed with video cameras have besieged the 300 recount locales demanding an 
actual ballot-by-ballot recount.

This first stage of the process is likely to take days: Results from more than 
11,000 precincts (the ones hidden by IFE ­ in most of them, López Obrador won 
the vote) that must be recounted, vote-by-vote, in accordance with Mexican 
electoral law. That is an average of almost 40 polling places per district. And 
with two well-organized sides battling over whether the votes will be counted 
aloud, combined with the stonewalling incompetence that has been IFE¹s 
trademark, an already fragile process is coming apart at the seams.

Police cordon a Nezahuacoyotl garbage dump where ballots and ballot-boxes from 
three precincts won by López Obrador were discovered on Tuesday.

Photo: D.R. 2006 El Universal

One of the major problems for IFE and the Fox administration is that if they 
were to allow the bread-and-butter recount that the public demands, the ugly 
truth would come out that an unknown number of ballot boxes have ³disappeared² 
in the past two days. The ballots from three precincts in the city of 
Nezahuacoyotl ­ a López Obrador stronghold ­ were discovered yesterday in the 
municipal garbage dump. The results from two of those precincts have been 
missing, since Sunday, from IFE¹s vote tallies. An IFE official, ambushed by 
television reporters, exacerbated the crime yesterday when she blamed the 
Mexican military: the Armed Forces, not IFE, are supposedly guarding the 
ballots, she said, in defense of her bureaucracy. This, sources close to the 
military told Narco News, produced significant anger among the military generals
and troops who ­ if the public does not believe or accept IFE¹s final decision ­
will be called upon to quell the national rebellion that follows.

The Armed Forces are understandably concerned about the very real possibility 
that history will be repeated: that they will be turned into the scapegoats of a
process-gone-awry. If, as in the 1960s and 1970s, the military is to be called 
upon to repress a civilian population¹s protests, highway blockades, strikes and
occupations of government centers ­ steps that are inevitable if IFE refuses to 
recount the votes in public ­ the generals will be turned into the primary 
recipients of the national and global repudiation that follows. Significantly, 
and distinct from the presidential elections six years ago, the Armed Forces 
have remained totally silent. Missing from the usual script are the previously 
obligatory statements by the military that it will unconditionally back IFE¹s 
verdict. There is the real possibility that if President Fox decides to try to 
quell the social unrest, that the military will refuse to become his enforcing 

Although many and vast, the various federal police agencies do not count with 
the numbers to successfully contain a national revolt. The events of June 14 in 
Oaxaca, when 15,000 striking teachers repelled the dawn attack by 3,000 riot 
cops, is still fresh in the collective memory. With mere sticks and stones they 
beat back the batons, shields, teargas bazookas, and real bullets from real 
guns, of the invading police, sent them running in retreat, and took back 56 
blocks of the city¹s downtown. The Mexico from below is more organized, united, 
and sophisticated than ever before. And, perhaps ironically, it is precisely in 
the states traveled in recent months by the Zapatista anti-electoral Other 
Campaign and its Subcomandante Marcos where the electorate voted most heavily 
for López Obrador and where the conditions most evidently exist to defend that 
vote in the streets and on the highways if need be.

The IFE¹s Foul Play

The malicious behavior by the Federal Electoral Institute and its chairman Luis 
Carlos Ugalde ­ in their visible maneuvers partial to Fox¹s PAN and Calderón 
throughout the election season and since ­ was evident prior to the election, 
but on Sunday night became clear as never before to the Mexican public. On 
Monday, the bias of the ³umpire² became clearer as hundreds of specific examples
of fraudulent vote counts began to surface across the Internet. On Tuesday, more
so, when Ugalde and IFE were caught red-handed in a big lie: their knowingly 
false claim that the preliminary results system had tabulated ³98.5 percent² of 
the vote when, in fact, the IFE had hidden 3.3 million (more than seven percent)
of the precinct tallies from public view.

Proceso magazine, on Monday, put IFE chief Luis Carlos Ugalde on its cover with 
the headline ³Arbitro Complice² (³Complicit Umpire²)

The cauldron that contained the public desire for a democracy long denied began 
to boil over when the IFE and the two national networks ­ Televisa and TV Azteca
­ decided to withhold their exit poll results from the public on Sunday night. 
This left the IFE¹s Preliminary Election Results Program (PREP) as the only 
public source of information. Statisticians and mathematicians are having a 
field day with the manner in which IFE selectively released results to create a 
false impression that Calderón was the victor. Some speak of computer-generated 
fraud and scientific concepts such as ³algorithms² that warped IFE¹s PREP 
results ­ your reporter is agnostic, so far, on whether that kind of fraud was 
committed ­ but there is one indisputable fact that reveals IFE¹s one-sided 
control of the flow of information, and it has nothing to do with fancy 
scientific concepts. Although IFE¹s own preliminary numbers today show a 
difference of only 0.64 percent between PAN and PRD votes, on election night and
into Monday IFE selectively rationed the release of partial results to, at each 
step, portray Calderón as the winner.

The first maneuver was transparent enough: IFE began its online preliminary 
count on Sunday by selecting result estimates mainly from the Northern Mexican 
states where Calderón won the vote. This was evident on the IFE PREP results 
because they were listed state-by-state and also by the five electoral regions 
of Mexico. Less than an hour after polls closed ­ at 6:57 p.m. ­ the earliest 
IFE results claimed Calderón had 40.87 percent to just 33.69 percent for López 
Obrador; a difference of more than seven percentage points. But look at this 
³photograph² of that moment in time.

Graphic: IFE preliminary count at 6:57 p.m. on Sunday. Click for larger version.

³Circunscripción 2,² circled in red, represents the northern region of Mexico ­ 
where all polls showed to be Calderón¹s strongest support and López Obrador¹s 
weakest ­ and although it represents only 20 percent of the country¹s 
population, IFE led with its numbers as 40 percent of its preliminary vote 
total. The region includes three states in the pacific time zone where polls had
yet to close and the rest of it is far from IFE headquarters in Mexico City. It 
is the most geographically disperse region, too, making it a slower process to 
get the results in to Mexico City. But IFE doubled its statistical influence 
from this region in the first hour to simulate a false impression that Calderón 
was far in the lead.

And so it went, all night long. With each and every update, IFE selectively 
released the vote tallies in a manner that kept Calderón in the lead. This is 
statistically impossible to do with a final tally of 0.6 percent difference 
between the two candidates (such a process with a close vote would, if reported 
as results came in, always show the tally tipping back and forth from one 
candidate to the other) ­ unless the results were being rationed selectively. 
(As example, at noon today, with 25 percent of precinct results tabulated in 
this very first stage of the recount, López Obrador has 36.98 percent to 34.39 
percent for Calderón: the man ³in the lead² is likely to tip back and forth all 
day as occurs in close races. That is what IFE¹s PREP results would have shown 
on Sunday night and Monday, had it truly entered the preliminary results 
randomly as they came in.)

As Sunday night marched into Monday morning, López Obrador closed the gap. Until
70 percent of the preliminary results were tallied, the López Obrador vote rose 
in a straight and steady line (see red line on chart). But suddenly, with 
between 70 and 80 percent of the preliminary results tallied, the trajectory 
that would have put López Obrador in the lead when less than 90 percent of the 
votes had been counted, took a swift downturn, exactly corresponding to a swift 
upturn by the third-place candidate Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional 
Revolutionary Party (PRI), represented by the green line on the chart.

Defenders of IFE explain this suspicious turn of events as one of ³the rural 
precincts coming in last,² where PRI was expected to do better. But rural 
district voters constituted the weakest vote for Calderón across the country; he
came in a distant third among rural farmers. As the line graph shows, in that 
latter stage of the posting of PREP results, Calderón¹s vote trajectory 
continues to run in the same downward straight line that it had traveled since 
early in the night. Had these truly been numbers from rural districts, his 
trajectory (the blue line) would have dipped significantly farther below.

On Monday, IFE closed its preliminary results, claiming that it had counted 98.5
percent of the precincts. With Calderon up by 377,000 votes (about 1.4 percent) 
it seemed to the casual observer that his lead was insurmountable. The problem 
is, the IFE did not tell the truth. Only about 92 percent of the preliminary 
tallies had been included in that count, leaving 3.3 million votes out of the 
count. The claim ­ posted with the PREP results ­ that 98.5 percent had been 
counted was knowingly false. It was intended, as has every step taken by IFE in 
the vote counting, to create the false impression of a clear lead by the 
candidate of the State, Felipe Calderón.

This was a blatant act of tampering with the PREP results by Ugalde and IFE 
officials. As IFE¹s own website says: ³La alteración de estos resultados es 
delito federal.² That means, ³Alteration of these results is a federal crime.² 
The selective withholding of those results on Sunday and since ­ again, and 
again, and again ­ constitutes multiple counts of what ought to be a criminal 
charge against those IFE officials responsible for withholding the tallies and 
also for falsely claiming that 98.5 percent had been counted and included in the
final PREP tally when they knew it to be false.

The Missing Three Million Votes

When, on Monday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused the IFE of hiding 3.3 
million votes, Commercial Media pundits and columnists scoffed, accused him of 
conspiracy theories, and continued their permanent campaign to marginalize him 
and his supporters.

But by Tuesday afternoon, IFE suddenly ³found² 2.5 million of those missing 

It is difficult to believe anything IFE or Ugalde say at this point given the 
documented deceptions they carried out on Sunday and Monday, but even IFE¹s 
accounting of those 2.5 million suddenly reappeared votes shows a strong lead by
­ surprise, surprise ­ López Obrador:

Obrador (PRD): 888,971
Madrazo (PRI): 809,003
Calderón (PAN): 743,795
Mercado (ASD): 28,040
Campa (NA): 13,096
Write-ins: 15,019
Nullified votes: 82,452

Not counting the ³nullified² votes, this narrowed Calderón¹s purported lead by 
145,000 votes; nearly halving his supposed margin to 0.64 percent, or roughly 
257,000 votes ­ less than two votes in each of 130,000 precincts.

As part II of this series will demonstrate, there is a consistent pattern of 
³vote shaving² against López Obrador between the official voting tallies (known 
as ³actas²) in precincts throughout the nation, and the PREP results. Narco News
will publish photographs of the official actas and demonstrate how the PREP 
results published by IFE shaved handfuls of votes from López Obrador¹s local 
tallies ­ sometimes two, or three, or six votes; and frequently simply by 
chopping off a digit (in one case, for example, changing the PRD candidate¹s 
tally from 188 to 88).

There are more missing precincts (with more than 700,000 votes), plus at least 
909,000 ³nullified² votes that, given IFE¹s clear bias and unfair handling of 
the votes, must be reopened to find if there truly were grounds to nullify them.

There is more, so much more, to report. But the facts above alone obligate a 
full recount, ballot-by-ballot. And it is revealing that Calderón, Fox¹s PAN and
the IFE are stonewalling in opposition to a public recount, while López Obrador 
and the PRD are insisting on it.

³El que nada debe, nada teme,² is a popular Mexican expression: He who owes 
nothing, fears nothing.

If they are so sure they ³won,² why do they oppose a full recount?

At stake: criminal penalties for IFE bureaucrats if it is found that ballots 
were tampered with or ³disappeared.² That is one fear. The other ­ justified or 
not ­ is who wins the presidency of the Republic of Mexico.

If the IFE tries to rush to judgment and declare a winner prior to a full 
recount, Mexico will explode. The IFE, the PAN, Fox and Calderón are thus 
playing with fire.

To be continuedŠ

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