Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2.5 million votes not counted in Mexico presidential election

Scary headline, eh? Don't panic.

In response to Andres Manuel López Obrador's charge that 3 million votes were "missing" from the preliminary count by the Mexican election bureau (IFE), the president of the IFE has responded. There are, in fact, 2,581,226 presidential ballots in the possession of the IFE which were not included in the preliminary count. These votes are included in 11,184 "Actas" which the IFE has not included in the count. Lemme 'splain that.

The "Acta" is the official tally by the vote counters at the 300,000 some casillas (polls) from around the country. If the Acta demonstrated "anomolies" it was not included in the preliminary count. An Acta could include from several hundred to many thousands of votes, depending upon the location of the poll. The Acta is, in fact, the vote tally from the poll.

Now, "anomolies" and "inconsistencies" could be caused by many things. The first and most glaring which comes to mind is that an Acta could include more votes than there were registered voters for that poll. Example: The PREP and IFE data base says that Casilla 320B in downtown Oaxaca had 10,120 voters registered to vote there and 750 absentee ballotes assigned. If the vote counters at Casilla 320B turned in their Acta and it totaled more than 10,870 votes, the PREP computer would automatically kick it out. The PREP analysts and judges would look at it and decide whether or not to allow it and include it and the votes it represents in the preliminary count. If the analysts and judges say, "No," that would cause the PREP to ignore that Acta and not include any of the ballots voted in that poll.

Please be very cautious when reading reports about this from sources who do not know what they are talking about. ALL OF THE VOTES WERE COUNTED. The votes themselves are not now being challenged by the IFE. The VOTE TALLY, or Acta, has been challenged for having some problem.

PREP (the group responsible for the preliminary count) president René Miranda gave the breakdown of the votes from the Actas that "demonstrated inconsisitancies" as follows. Now, remember, these votes are all included in various Actas, or vote tallies, now totaling 11,184, that the PREP and IFE decided to not include in the preliminary count for one reason or another. No one is claiming, yet, that any individual ballot, or vote, has a problem. Only that the tally, or Acta, which included that vote had a problem.

743,795, para el PAN (Calderon).

809,003 votos para la Alianza por México. (PRI -- Madrazo -- punked)

888,971 votos para la coalición Por el Bien de Todos. (PRD - AMLO)

13,946, para Nueva Alianza.

28,040 para Alternativa Socialdemócrata.

15,019 para candidatos no registrados.

82 mil 452 son votos nulos. (annulled votes - these aren't counted except as a total)
As you can see, even if every one of these votes is included in the final count, AMLO will only recover 145,176 votes, at most, and he is currently trailing by more than 400,000. So, I don't think this is going to make any difference in the end.

Now, all of the ballots must be checked and approved in the 300 Junta Distritales (district committees) which are made up of representatives of all the various political parties who contested the election. These challenged Actas and the votes they represent may still be included in the count, or they may not be. If they are not, the members of the Junta Distrital must hand count the ballots from each disqualified Acta.

When the whole shebang finally arrives at the IFE headquarters in Mexico City, the IFE blesses the work of the Junta Distritales and passes it all to the head of the line, the Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación (TEPJF). These are the magistrates who will make the final decision on the count and declare the winner.

That's when all the formal individual challenges from the political parties and their candidates will start. Right now, it's all yada yada yada, playing to the cameras and the base. The TEPJF must analyze not only the work of the poll workers and their Actas, but also of the Juntas Distritales and the decisions they made, the PREP and its handling of the preliminary count, the IFE and its handling of the entire election cycle as well as adjudicate what will no doubt be thousands of complaints and accusations of fraud, miss-counts, under-counts, over-counts, etc.

What the magistrates will do first is look at each issue to determine if it could possibly affect the outcome of the election, based upon the preliminary count. If not, their work will be quick and easy. They'll disallow some complaints and allow others so that everyone is mollified and then certify Calderon as the victor and let the squawking from AMLO and the PRD commence. If, however, any one or any combination of problems with the the Actas or accusations of fraud or poor decision making anywhere along the line might in fact change the outcome or put it in doubt, the magistrates will have to get into it more deeply. That could take a couple of months.

One big factor here that many are overlooking is how well organized and efficient this whole process is. The PRI spent decades and billions of dollars (not pesos, US dollars) rigging the election process so that they could not lose. The PAN and the PRD have spent decades battling to fix it. The PAN/PRD and some other smaller parties (that tend to come and go) have gained ground against the PRI in gains measured in inches, or millimeters, as it were, and, far too often, in blood. Decade by decade, year by year, they have fought the PRI to get to what they have today; a system in place that is very hard to game.

The efforts so far to game the system have been bone-headed and bald-faced in nature. Police spending 3 days marking up duplicate ballots for the PRI in Oaxaca, then getting caught when a "turncoat" informs on them. A ballet box was just found, full of votes, up north somewhere along the border. These clumsy attempts to return to the bad old days are just that, clumsy and bad. They will not have an effect.

If you read this blog much you know that I will unload on the Mexicans without mercy. But my hat, or sombrero, is off to them for the way they, so far, have managed this election. I believe that the inevitable anomolies and inconsistencies will be adjudicated in a fair and impartial manner and according to the law. What is also pretty neat is watching them exercise a system that is still in its infancy.

Their own officials sometimes contradict one another. For instance, one official says that the Juntas Distritales must begin their district certification of the votes by Wednesday and complete it by Sunday, the results being in the hands of the IFE in Mexico City by Monday 8:00 am. Another, however, says there is no time limit on their work. They both quote the same law. They'll get it worked out.

I don't think that AMLO can win it. I think that Felipe Calderon has won it fair and square. But we'll have to wait and see.

Please visit the Pale Horse Galleries online store
for art, gifts and collectables -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.


No comments: