Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Los Angeles Times sowing confusion over Mexican vote

This L.A. Times report is so wrong I almost don't know where to start. The reporter, Héctor Tobar, whose Spanish should be better than mine and whose contacts should be better informed than I, claims,
The result of Mexico's presidential vote was thrown into doubt today as federal election officials acknowledged that more than 3.4 million ballots, some 8% of the total, remain uncounted.
First of all, the total votes in question here are 2,581,226, not 3.4 million. And those numbers come directly from the "federal election officials". In addition, each and every one of those votes has been counted. You may see the tallies here. The vote count shows that Felipe Calderon's lead over Andres Manuel López Obrador will shrink from 1.05% to about .64%, or roughly 250,000 votes.

Tobar says,
But officials acknowledged today that the count did not include vote totals from thousands of polling stations where "irregularities" were noted in the official paperwork. Those polling stations were counted as "processed" but their votes were not tallied.
The link above will show that these votes have, indeed, been tallied.

What Tobar does not seem to understand is that "tallied" and "counted" do not equate to being included in the preliminary vote totals as released by the IFE, or, more precisely, the PREP, the organization under the IFE which is responsible for the preliminary count.

Tobar says,
Officials of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose candidate Roberto Madrazo was running a distant third with 21.5% of the votes, announced Sunday night that they would contest the election results in the courts.
That's exactly the opposite of what Roberto Madrazo and the PRI officials have said. They have stated that they will NOT contest the results of the election in court and will respect the final decision of the IFE. There is, however, a very close race for the governorship of the state of Morelos (Cuernavaca) between the PAN and the PRI. The PAN is leading there and has declared itself the winner. Maybe this is what Tobar is referring to, I dunno.

Tobar says that, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, PRD officials claimed that vote totals in the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato (both PAN strongholds) had been reported twice. I can find no reference to this charge in any other Mexican media source. I cannot say with certainty that the PRD did not make this charge, but nobody else seems to have heard it.

Tobar says,
But leaders of Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) said election officials had committed a serious error by creating the widespread impression that nearly all the votes had been counted.

"It seems to me very grave, and unforgivable, that a fact of this nature was not released to the public," said Jesus Ortega, Lopez Obrador's campaign manager.

Federal Electoral Institute President Luis Carlos Ugalde reminded Mexicans in a radio interview today that the preliminary count issued by the institute has no legal standing. The winner can only be determined after the official count of all the polling reports begins Wednesday, Ugalde said. The more than 3 million uncounted votes will then be added to the official tally.
Here is a direct quote from the radio address by IFE president Ugalde:
"Estas 11 mil 184 actas representan dos millones 581 mil 226 votos que serán sumados una vez que esas actas sean revisadas durante los computos distritales", concluyó.

Translation: "These 11,184 Actas represent 2,581,226 votes that will be added once these Actas are reviewed during the district computations" he concluded.
If you follow the same link I sent you to above, you will learn what an "Acta" is and what the "districts" are and how they function.

Now, look at the first two paragraphs of the quotes above by the PRD officials. What Tobar did not relate to his readers was something else that IFE president Ugalde said in response to the PRD:
Recordó que el pasado 10 de febrero los partidos políticos y el Comité Técnico Asesor acordaron recibir, pero no contabilizar aquellas actas en que se presumiera la existencia de error.

Translation: He recalled that this past February 10, in a meeting between all the political parties and the Tecnical Committee (of the IFE), it was agreed not to take into consideration (in the preliminary results) the vote totals from those Actas which were suspected of error.
That's pretty important. If the reporter is going to quote the attack, he should also quote the defense, especially when he has, more or less, lifted quotes from other parts of the defense. The PRD agreed to the process on February 10 when their man AMLO had a 10 point lead over Calderon but now, in July, when he trails by a point, that agreement is forgotten.

The L.A. Times report also credits a Marla Dickerson in Monterrey and Carlos Martinez and Cecilia Sanchez in Mexico City for contributing to the report.

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