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Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2006

Debates follow election recount

August 12, 2006

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— In contesting the official results of Mexico's presidential election, aides to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have insisted their cause is about more than just arithmetic. It's about justice and democracy too, they say.

But with a partial recount of the July 2 election winding down Friday, Lopez Obrador's supporters found hope in hard numbers.

They said the recount was uncovering enough irregularities to challenge official results that had scored the election for Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party.

And the trend, leaders of Lopez Obrador's leftist coalition said, favored their candidate.

The PAN, as Calderon's National Action Party is known, produced numbers of its own Friday.

With almost 60 percent of the targeted precincts already reviewed, PAN leaders said, the official tally was proving correct in three of every four precincts. Most precincts that changed did so by fewer than five votes, the party said. And Calderon's lead was holding steady, according to PAN officials.

"The only fraud here is the allegation of fraud," said German Martinez Cazares, who represents the PAN before the federal electoral authorities.

The dueling numbers and clashing rhetoric showed that the recount is unlikely to produce either the clarity or the conciliation that federal electoral judges might have hoped for when they ordered the review last week.

Instead, it has produced new questions and more topics of dispute.

Lopez Obrador's people have jumped on several oddities as proof of fraud or tampering.

In some precincts, ballot boxes that were to remain sealed and locked up were found opened. In other precincts, the numbers of votes exceeded the numbers of ballots handed out. Errors of math, counting or procedure have turned up at thousands of precincts.

The Federal Electoral Tribunal gave officials until Monday to review nearly 12,000 precincts where complaints about the original count were deemed valid enough to take another look.

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