Mexico court rejects charges of election fraud

In the wake of an Aug. 28 ruling by Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal that there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the July 2 election, leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed to continue his campaign of mass, peaceful civil resistance to force the authorities to conduct a full recount.

Lopez Obrador, candidate of the For the Good of All coalition, also raised the possibility of setting up a parallel government.

The Aug. 28 ruling was in response to a partial vote recount involving 11,843 polling places (out of 130,000) ordered by the tribunal earlier in the month.

The seven judges on the panel rejected most of Lopez Obrador’s legal complaints. The tribunal found the 11,843 polling places to be relatively free of misconduct, but decided to annul some vote tallies where fraud was uncovered.

Tribunal Judge Jose Luna said, “Based on the annulments that were deemed necessary, all the parties lost a considerable amount of votes that did not affect the results.” According to the tribunal, National Action Party (PAN) presidential candidate Felipe Calderon lost 81,080 votes and Lopez Obrador 76,897. The changes reduced Calderon’s margin of victory over his left-wing rival from 243,934 to 239,751 out of 41 million votes cast.

Lopez Obrador said his coalition identified fraud and irregularities in 72,000 “acts” (vote tallies at each polling place), and that 1 million votes are missing. Other groups have voiced similar complaints.

Six election commission members from the state of Sinaloa stated that 40 percent of the acts as well as the final vote tally contain mathematical errors. Similar reports came from at least five other states and the Federal District of Mexico City.

The coalition also alleges that electronic fraud took place. Scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) say there is evidence that illicit software produced a false victory for Calderon. They and their colleagues at the Autonomous Metropolitan University held a press conference Aug. 28 where they called on the tribunal to order a full vote-by-vote recount. The gross errors, irregularities and manipulation of vote tallies call the validity of the elections into doubt, they said.

Calderon hailed the tribunal’s ruling, saying that it clears up doubt about his electoral win.

However, Lopez Obrador condemned the ruling, charging that the tribunal decided to “validate fraud.” He told a crowd in Mexico City’s central square, the Zocalo, that the “tribunal deliberately rejected and ignored evidence” of electoral wrongdoing during the recount in many polling places.

If the tribunal officially declares Calderon president, Lopez Obrador said, his leftist coalition will consider setting up a parallel government or a national coordinating body of peaceful resistance at the National Democratic Convention to be held in the Zocalo and surrounding streets Sept. 16.

Lopez Obrador said that, when government institutions no longer function and represent the people, Article 39 of the Mexican constitution allows people to change their government.

The tribunal’s Aug. 5 decision to order a partial vote recount was mired in controversy, with widespread speculation about political heavy-handedness. A source in Mexico’s intelligence services told the World that four of the seven judges on the tribunal “respond to the interests of Calderon.”

In addition, the government of President Vicente Fox allegedly pressured the tribunal into not ordering a full vote recount by telling judges that their careers would go nowhere if they made the wrong decision. The source said the Fox government rigged the July 2 elections to prevent Lopez Obrador from winning.

The Aug. 28 ruling paves the way for the tribunal, whose rulings are final and cannot be appealed, to declare Calderon the presidential winner. It must make its official declaration by Sept 6.