Mexico's 2006 Elections

In what has already been a year of crucial and close elections throughout Latin America, one would think that Mexico's day at the polls would be treated by bloggers as just one more game in a long tournament to be followed by major political contests in Brazil, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. But, “just one more game” couldn't be further from an accurate description of the bombardment of online content surrounding Sunday's election, which so far has yet to produce an official incumbent. Bloggers throughout the region, but especially in Mexico, decided that they would play an instrumental part in documenting this year's tightly contested election (ES) and that is exactly what they have done.

Though Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) says that official results won't be made available until Wednesday, Erwin Cifuentes, like many, notes that conservative candidate Felipe Calderón holds a one percent lead over leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) with 98% of the votes counted. Cifuentes, who wonders if the results would have differed had fourth place candidate Patricia Mercado not run, also takes a comprehensive look at English-language press and blog commentary on the elections. (Ana Maria Salazar, by the way, in a post titled “AMLO lost because of Patricia?” believes that “few of those voting for Patricia would have necessarily voted for AMLO.”

As I type, however, it appears that the one percent margin between Calderon and AMLO could be reduced to .64% as Eduardo Arcos explains:

Si se suman las actas de cómputo que tienen inconsistencias la diferencia en el Programa de Resultados Electorales Preliminares (PREP) se redujo a sólo 257,532 votos entre un candidato y otro es decir apenas 0.64% entre un candidato y otro, aumentando el vértigo de estas elecciones aún más.

¿Recuerdan que Luis Carlos Ugalde reconoció que habían dos millones y medio de actas no contabilizadas porque supustamente tenían inconsistencias? pues ahora René Miranda, el coordinador del servicio de informática del IFE, consideró que era válido hacer la suma de las actas que no tuvieron inconsistencias con las que sí tuvieron y no se habían contabilizado porque eso fue lo acordado con los partidos políticos.

En los 2,581,226 actas con inconsistencias, Calderón obtuvo 743,795 votos y López Obrador 888,971 votos. Interesante.

If they add up the ballots that have inconsistencies, the difference on the Preliminary Electoral Results Program (PREP) is reduced to just 257,532 votes between one candidate and the other; that is to say, just 0.64% increasing the frenzy of these elections even more.

Remember that [IFE President] Luis Carlos Ugalde recognized that there had been two and a half million ballots not counted because supposedly they had inconsistencies? Well, now René Miranda, the coordinator of information service at the IFE, considered that it was valid to add up the ballots that did not have inconsistencies as well as those that did and weren't counted because that's what the political parties agreed to.

In the 2,581,226 ballots with inconsistencies, Calderon obtained 743,795 votes and Lopez Obrador 888,971 votes. Interesting.

Raul Ramirez shows the arithmetic behind the narrowing difference.

Ballots with “inconsistencies” are far from the only contention causing blogger outcry. Many bloggers who registered to vote have first hand accounts of arriving to the polling place only to be told they are not on the voting list and won't be able to participate. Livin’ la vida López, the weblog of Sergio and Emily, an American couple who recently moved back to Sergio's hometown of Morelia, describes voting day with pictures and text:

When we first got to Mexico, Sergio inquired at the local voters registration office if he had to renew his voter's registration. They said no, he still had his card from 8 years ago, and that would work just fine. But when he got to the poll yesterday he wasn't on the list of registered voters. No vote for him. Everyone else was able to vote and got the thumb stamp to prove it.

Jorge Cocompech uploaded a video of electoral officials being lectured by several indignant citizens who weren't allowed to vote at their neighborhood polling station. “How many didn't vote?” asks Cocompech.

Victor Hernandez of the pro-AMLO blog El Sendero del Peje 2006 asks readers to photograph any polling station where voters were not able to cast their ballots (ES).

The most linked-to controversy of the elections so far seems to reveal more about the uncertain credibility of online media more than the potential voting fraud that many bloggers are trying to dig up. Both El Sendero del Peje and NuestroVoto.org.mx caused quite a storm when they posted photographs of what appeared to be vote fraud by the official electoral website PREP. In each post you clearly see that the official voting results from the polling station did not correspond to the results posted on the PREP website. Then, linked to the story (ES), a commenter named Alejandro posted what he described as the “original photo” of the polling station results, but Arcos realized that this so-called original image was the one that was actually manipulated.

Un Mono Ocupado (A Busy Monkey), the weblog of a political science graduate student in Mexico City, had this to say about the electoral results, or lack thereof:

Si el IFE le da la constancia de mayoría (eso podría ser hasta septiembre), él será el próximo presidente de México y guste o no guste, se votará por él o no, tendrá que gobernar a todos, a los 14 millones que votaron por él y a 106 millones más (entre abstemios, opositores e infantes), así que la pregunta de si estoy de acuerdo es realmente irrelevante.

Sí él gano (y todo parece indicar que sí), el nos gobernara y que bueno que el que obtenga más votos se convierta en el presidente y no quien mejor nos caiga, de lo contrario el margen tan pequeño de victoria (cuatrocientos mil votantes) crearía incertidumbre e ilegitimidad y creo que México no se lo merece.

En todo caso, Andrés Manuel no ha reconocido su derrota, porque todavía no pierde, esto no se acaba hasta que se cuenten todos los votos y existe certeza de que 3 millones de votos no se contaron por inconsistencias en el llenado de las actas. En el caso de mi casilla, un acta fue invalidada y no contó, porque el menso que la lleno, hizo de su letra algo ilegible, pero en ese caso es culpa de todos, del que hizo el acta, de los representantes de partido y del propio IFE por no buscar maneras de evitar errores tan pueriles.

De corazón, viva México, viva la Democracia y la Legalidad.

If the IFE gives proof of the majority (this could take until September), [Calderon] will be the next president of Mexico and, like it or not, whether you voted for him or not, he will have to govern everyone: the 14 million that voted for him and the 106 million more (among abstentions, opposition, and soldiers). So the question of whether I agree with him or not is really irrelevant.

If he won (and everything seems to indicate yes), he will govern us and, well, he who obtains more votes becomes president, not he who we get along with best. Otherwise, the very small margin of victory (400,000 votes) would create uncertainty and illegitimacy and I don't think Mexico deserves that.

In any case, Andres Manuel has not recognized his defeat, because he has still hasn't lost. This doesn't end until they count all the votes and there is certainty about the three million votes which weren't counted for inconsistencies in the filling out of the ballots. In the case of my polling place, a ballot was invalidated and not counted because the dummy that filled it out had illegible handwriting, but in that case it's the fault of everyone: the person who made the ballot, the representatives of the party and the IFE for not seeking manners to avoid such trivial errors.

From the heart, long live Mexico, long live democracy and legality.

In such a close race, some observers had thought that the vote from abroad could very well play a deciding role in the election's outcome. But the official results, cited by both BlogsMexico (ES) and Mexicans in Spain (ES) would suggest otherwise. BlogsMexico writes:

Se recibieron sobres con boleta electoral de 71 países. Entre los países con más votos enviados se encuentran : Estados Unidos (28 mil 355 votos) España (mil 108)m Canadá (823), reino Unido ( (428), Alemania ( (368) y Francia (309).

Envelopes with electoral ballots were received from 71 countries. Among them, with the most votes send we find: USA (28,355), Spain (1,108), Canada (823), UK (428), Germany (368), and France (309).

Julio Sueco, a Mexican blogger living in Sweden, listed the humble turnout of his fellow countrymen and women in Scandinavia (Sweden – 61, Finland – 18, Denmark – 20, Iceland – 4, and Norway – 19). One commenter says she had no idea Mexicans can vote in Sweden and asks if it's already too late. Sueco clarifies that July 1st was the last day votes could be received from abroad.

While most bloggers are clearly focusing on the tight presidential race, Matthew Shugart has a useful breakdown of the preliminary congressional results. English speakers wanting regularly updates should follow Ana Maria Salazar's Mexico Today and WaPo's Mexico Votes 2006. Also, if any Global Voices readers would like a specific post translated into English, please leave a comment with the appropriate link and I would be happy to do so.

7 comments

  • […] Mexico’s 2006 Elections […]

  • The Nervous Count in Mexico

    The nerve-biting count of votes in Mexico continues. Bloomberg reports that Obrador is now leading Calderon in the early counting. Mark in Mexico says that the LA Times is totally misreporting the ballot tally process. Publius Pundit has more. Fruit…

  • Is anybody following the recount today (Aug. 10)? That would be most useful and appreciated! The coverage in the papers is very piecemeal. What’s a good central election-watching site, if anybody knows?

  • […] GVO seems to have lost interest, after doing yeoman service in the original polling. Its main contribution since then has mostly been links to anti-Obrador bloggers, it sort of looks like, though I have not sampled the coverage thoroughgoingly. Maybe some of those guys that were covering the first poll are sitting around poll-blogging today … let me click through … […]

  • Speedy

    New Elections!
    Mexico is a Democratic and Kapitalistic Nation and Felipe Calderon didn’t won by Democracy!
    another bush? another puppet?
    no way!

  • Edgar

    After such a small margin, Calderon wins another not so wonderful election. NO wonder nobody here in the U.S. was interested in voting. With all the legislation passed in Mexico to allow voters to vote here in the U.S., it doesn’t surprise me that the majority that could have voted, didn’t. But, at least Mexico is stable and on a good economic run, not like in the 90’s.

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