1828Mexico begins review of presidential vote
- Jul 5, 2006http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060705/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/mexico_elections;_ylt=AvNafC.P.pB8ckNAQL8yRQb9xg8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE-
Mexico begins review of presidential vote
By IOAN GRILLO, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 49
MEXICO CITY - Mexico began a marathon review of vote
tallies Wednesday to determine whether conservative
candidate Felipe Calderon really won the tight
presidential race, while his leftist challenger
insisted he was victorious and denounced what he
called widespread irregularities.
Calderon told The Associated Press that he would be
willing to include his charismatic challenger in his
Cabinet in an effort to avoid weeks of political
impasse. But he said he didn't think Andres Manuel
Lopez Obrador would accept, adding that the two men
hadn't talked since the election.
A preliminary count showed Calderon, of President
Vicente Fox's conservative National Action Party,
ahead by just 1 percentage point. Lopez Obrador
demanded a recount of every ballot, saying Wednesday:
"The political stability of the country hangs in the
Lopez Obrador could mobilize millions if he doesn't
get his way. In a news conference Wednesday, Calderon
raised the possibility that he would do the same.
"We could also call for protests, but the vote can't
be replaced by demonstrations," he said. "They are
trying to undermine an election without having the
results to back it up."
Federal Electoral Institute President Luis Carlos
Ugalde said late Tuesday that 2.6 million votes were
not included in the preliminary count because of
"inconsistencies," such as poor handwriting or
extraneous marks on the tally sheets attached outside
each ballot box. Lopez Obrador had initially said
those 2.6 million were "missing."
If a review of the uncounted votes inside prove the
numbers on these tally sheets are valid, Calderon
would still lead, but by just 0.64 percent about
250,000 of the 41 million votes cast, Ugalde said.
Electoral officials across Mexico began to review all
the tally sheets Wednesday, a process that by law must
continue around the clock until the final, official
result is determined. It was unclear when that might
The final count will be turned over to Mexico's
electoral courts, where political parties can dispute
the results. The electoral court is to certify the
winner Sept. 6.
Ugalde said officials would open ballot boxes to
conduct individual counts only where there are tally
In an initial meeting between electoral officials and
party representatives, Horacio Duarte of Lopez
Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party demanded that
officials recount all the votes "for the health of the
"There is one thing missing in this process:
certainty," Duarte said.
National Action's German Martinez responded, "They
want to throw out the election because it didn't favor
them. Pressure and blackmail should not prevail."
The review that began Wednesday is crucial to proving
the balloting was clean to a nation that emerged six
years ago from 71 years of one-party rule replete with
election fraud. Some fear that failure to convince the
public and candidates it was a fair vote could spark
widespread civil unrest.
"Such a close race is a nightmare scenario," said Ted
Lewis, an election observer for the San
Francisco-based Global Exchange. "If the ruling party
wins by a hair, a lot of people will jump to the
conclusion that something is amiss."
Lopez Obrador aide Claudia Sheinbaum said Wednesday
that the party found "very grave inconsistencies" in
at least 50,000 polling places, including 18,646 in
which votes cast outnumbered ballots distributed by
officials. There was no immediate response from
"The entire handling of the preliminary count was
irregular," Lopez Obrador told Mexico's TV Azteca in
an interview Tuesday night. "We are convinced that we
won and we're going to prove it."
Directing his remarks to electoral officials, he said,
"Make the review thorough so all will be satisfied.
Ugalde said officials will open up ballot boxes to
conduct individual counts only if there is evidence of
Mexico became accustomed to widespread accusations of
electoral shenanigans during seven decades of rule by
the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Fears of such fraud have sharply diminished since the
electoral institute was founded in 1990s. The
now-autonomous institute oversaw Fox's peaceful defeat
of the PRI in 2000 and has been praised as a
world-class electoral body that has advised emerging
democracies, including Iraq and Haiti.
Many Mexicans have a hard time discarding conspiracy
"It's very suspicious," said Miguel Angel Bobadilla, a
33-year-old orange juice seller who voted for Lopez
Obrador. "It has been three days since the election
and they still haven't declared a winner."
The silver-haired former mayor of Mexico City has
inspired passionate support with promises to help
millions of poor Mexicans, and has successfully
rallied supporters to participate in huge marches.
He has not called for any demonstrations since the
election, although there were some scattered, peaceful
protests supporting him Tuesday.
Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal said Tuesday that
the Fox administration "does not endorse the victory
of anyone, at all."
But political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo said there
is still concern that some electoral officials are too
close to Calderon. He said the electoral institute
needs to be scrupulous in its review to prove Mexico's
"I am worried," Crespo said. "All the players must
tread very carefully or this situation could escalate
out of control."
On the Net:
Federal Electoral Institute: http://www.ife.org.mx
(has English language site)
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