Mexicos voters reject token recount

MEXICO CITY — Falling short of widespread demands for a full vote recount, the Federal Electoral Tribunal here ruled Aug. 5 that it would only recount votes in 9.7 percent of polls. The decision sparked widespread outrage.

The ruling is a response to an appeal launched by the left-wing coalition For the Good of All, which asked for a ballot by ballot recount of the July 2 vote.

The coalition presented evidence to the tribunal that there were errors and falsifications in 72,000 out of 130,000 “acts” (vote tallies at local polling places), as well as in the final, aggregate vote count. For example, in many local polling places, observers said, the vote tally for coalition presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was much higher than the federal election commission said it was.

The tribunal ruled there was insufficient evidence to justify a full recount. The results of the partial recount were expected Aug. 12.

Political analysts suggested that the government of President Vicente Fox ordered the tribunal — whose members were appointed by the governing National Action Party (PAN) — to order a recount of only a small percentage of the vote in order to appease growing public sentiment for a vote recount.

A source in Mexico’s military intelligence services told the World in an interview that the Fox government pressured the tribunal into ruling against a full vote recount, telling its members their careers would not go anywhere if they made the “wrong decision.”

Julio Hernandez Lopez, a columnist for the left-wing daily La Jornada, reports that a source told him that he overheard PAN leader Cesar Leal telling a newly elected PAN senator Aug. 3 over dinner in a luxury restaurant in Polanco, a wealthy neighborhood here, that he had “closed a deal with the electoral tribunal to open a reduced percentage of select ballot boxes.”

According to Alberto Barranco, columnist for the center-right daily La Universal, Mexico’s business community also influenced the tribunal’s decision. Barranco wrote, “In the business orbit there is information circulating that some (business) magnates are collecting money to secretly deliver to the judges of the tribunal.” He said the plan involves awarding each judge about $900,000 for voting against a full recount.

Lopez Obrador said he does not accept the tribunal’s ruling and vowed that he will continue with his campaign of peaceful civil disobedience to force authorities to recount the vote. The tribunal’s ruling was also condemned by trade unionists and civil organizations.

Much of Mexico City’s downtown is occupied with tens of thousands of protesters who are camped out on the streets. Every day, more people arrive from across Mexico. On Aug. 8, hundreds of protesters took over toll booths leading into the capital, waving new protesters through.

In the meantime, evidence of widespread electoral fraud continues to mount. Six board members of the election commission in the state of Sinaloa said 40 percent of the vote tallies contain mathematical errors. They called for an investigation. Election officials in five other states have stepped forward with similar charges.