Friday, August 11, 2006

An Open Letter To Journalists Covering the Mexican Election

Before reading this, also check out an open letter from Andres Manueal Lopez Obrador in the in today's New York Times.

August 10, 2006

I would like to call your attention to the mishandling and lack of transparency in the recounting of ballots in this election, which may be repeating themselves as the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TRIFE) conducts its second partial recount, this time of 11,839 or approximately 9 percent of casillas.

Our own analysis “An Analysis of Mexico’s Recounted Ballots” of the recount, was released on Tuesday; Hugo Almada Mireles, Professor of Research Methods at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, also analyzed the recount data in the attached article (¿Qué Pasó con los Paquetes que se Abrieron?), a version of which also appeared in Proceso this week. Professor Almada reaches very similar and disturbing conclusions from the same recount data.

The two analyses of the data were carried out independently and without any knowledge of each other.

Attention to this matter is vital because the current recount is under way and if it proceeds in the same way as the prior recount, the public will know very little about what happened in these recounted casillas.

It is now two days into this recount and there is very little information available to the public about what is happening. It took a full month following the first recount before we even knew exactly which casillas were recounted. It is already August 10, and this recount is supposed to be completed by Sunday, August 13). Delays in making the information public could easily result in the Tribunal making a decision – due August 31 – before the public has a chance to look at what happened.

The first recount was badly mishandled and raises serious questions about the whole electoral process. By our calculations, there were 116 casillas where vote totals were reduced by an average of 63 percent. This is about 4 percent of the recounted sample of casillas – a very large percentage to have such large errors. Furthermore, there were many other casillas that exceeded the limit of 760 votes that were not even recounted.

If these and other anomalies and irregularities, described in detail in both of the papers cited above, had been known to the public before the TRIFE reached its decision, the judges may have ordered a full recount – as was urged by many newspapers including the New York Times and the Financial Times editorial boards.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to look at what happened in the first recount, and most importantly pursue the information about the current recount so that this time it will be available to the public before it is too late.


Mark Weisbrot
Center for Economic and Policy Research


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