The Long Mexican Elections


Image: El Universal

Mexico went to the polls on July 1st, and typical tensions surrounding the pre-electoral period –uncertainty, political crispations, and mistrust–, were not dissipated. They are still there, basically promoted by the electoral system of the country: slow polling place installation; inconsistency of acts; numerous spoilt votes, and what seems to be the root of everything: instead of final and official results at the end of the voting process, pre-counting estimations are provided, which are not legally valid.

This factor has been –and still is– the pioneer of most concerns upsetting citizens and political actors in Mexico. Recent elections are not the exception and proof of it is that, whereas there are over 7 advantage points between the candidate proclaimed as winner of the Presidency of the Republic and his closer contender, which translates in a difference of over 3.300.000 votes, these results have not been enough to make him accept the defeat.
A week after the elections, the formal impugnation has not been brought, but Manuel López Obrador, who will be second in the elections, ratified that he will contest the results. From his point of view, there was a refusal within the country regarding the opening of the electoral ballot boxes to recount the votes and local authorities of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) had a “closed attitude” towards a more transparent recounting process because, in his opinion, elections were full of irregularities.

During the last days, IFE recounted over 54% of votes –process that took more time than expected– because a lot of polling stations had more spoilt votes than the sum of valid votes; and there were inconsistencies of acts and minimum differences between the first and second places. The electoral entity confirmed the preliminary results, but doubts still remain; there were even massive protests in the country’s capital city.

Manual vote has always got Mexico into trouble, which is why this country is defining a way out: electronic vote. Although bids to set up the instauration of electronic vote were news, particularly in Jalisco, where favoritism to award the contract to an inexperienced company was reported; last July 1st some electronic polls were installed. Results are different, whereas some regions did not account for major problems, there are cases like those reported before the Jalisco’s Electoral and Citizen Participation Institute (IEPC, in Spanish), by the representative of the Movimiento Ciudadano party, Hugo Luna, who stated that there were inconsistencies like higher number of votes as compared to people in the nominal list.
Road to automation does not need to be tortuous, but in countries that do not choose the more transparent path, like performing a clean bid (selection of a capable company with proven experience) actually helps modernizing suffrage. Mexico is still in time to step forward and follow the steps of countries in the region like Venezuela and Brazil, to give millions of voters the possibility to rely on a modern and reliable system, before mistrust continues undermining the citizens’ attachment to the foundation of Democracy: the vote.

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