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Mexico: Awaiting the Final Count

Three days following Mexico’s election and the next president has yet to be decided
(Mexico City) Last night the Mexican Electoral Commission, IFE, announced the final results from PREP, the commission’s Preliminary Election Results System. Felipe Calderon, the conservative candidate, is now leading by only 0.6% above Lopez Obrador, the left leaning candidate, but 2,581,226 ballots have yet to be counted.
The reason, according to IFE, these ballots have not been included is due to “inconsistencies” on the tally sheets attached to ballot boxes in 11,184 “casillas” or polling places. These include bad hand writing and mis-markings on the tally sheets in each of these polling places throughout the country.
Yet, all of the results from the PREP, as the IFE insists, is merely an indication and not a final tally. Today, begining at 8am the marathon hand count began across the country. This count should be completed by Sunday morning. It is at that point where either candidate has four days to file any complaints to dispute the results.

Irregularities or Fraud?
Wed, 5 Jul 2006 13:36:06 -0700 (PDT)
(Mexico City) Every day at noon officials from Lopez Obrador’s party, PRD, meet at the Hotel Casa Balanca in Colonia Tabacalera for a press conference.
Yesterday marked the first of such meetings in which members of the PRD presented evidence of irregularities in the vote count as well as problems that occurred on Election Day.
Members of the press, squeezed in a small conference room, pushed party leaders to say fraud had occurred, but thus far they have maintained the line that there were “irregularities” and further investigation is needed.
According to documents distributed by PRD, around 3 million votes have yet to be counted, there were inconsistencies in the PREP, and anomalous drop-off where people showed up to vote but did not cast a vote for president.
Following the PRD press conference, IFE, the electoral commission, confirmed that, indeed, around 3 million votes have yet to be counted.
Claims of fraud will be very difficult to prove and a costly political move until IFE announces its final results. It is after that point where each candidate has 4 days to submit complaints
to the electoral commission.
Ultimately, it is the Federal Electoral Court which will hear these complaints and make a decision. All disputes regarding the presidential election, according to officials I’ve spoken with at IFE, must be resolved by August 31st.

PRD’s Casa De Campana
Wed, 5 Jul 2006 15:04:37 (PDT)
(Mexico City) On the corner of San Luis Potos and Cordoba in Colonia Roma Norte, the international press corp covering the Mexican elections is gathered, waiting for something, anything, to happen.
Every so often shouts erupt from inside the TV Azteca van where a horde of technicians, cameramen, and journalists are crouched inside watching the World Cup.
The bright orange and white building we are all huddled around is the Casa de Campana of the PRD, Lopez Obrador’s headquarters. Calderon, his opponent, has already called for Obrador to admit defeat and concede. Yet in a race where there is only a 0.6% gap, Obrador refuses, opting for all the ballots to be counted and for irregularities to be investigated.
As we wait to meet with one of PRD’s press officers, I meet a man waiting by a side-door. Marco Garcia introduces me to his 12 year old son, Thor, and tells me they are waiting to meet with one of the top Secretaries in the PRD campaign. He is here to deliver a letter of support from a coalition of small businesses to Obrardor, “He needs our support given
the current crisis.”
MarcoOne of the main criticisms of Obrador, both by his opponent and a lot of the press coverage, is that he is a “fiery leftist” and anti-business. I ask Marco, whose own business has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top Mexican companies to look out for, why he would support a man like this. He quickly replies, “I’m not a leftist. I believe in stopping corruption and growing the economy through helping poor people, which will in turn grow business. I believe Obrador is the best man for this.”
We finally meet with the PRD press officer and then hop in a Volko taxi, just as Obrador pulls up in his car. Within seconds, the TV Azteca crew jumps out of the van and runs over to his car. It is also in this moment where I see Marco and his son finally being waved inside the Casa De Campana.
Matt Pascarella is an award winning researcher and producer for investigative journalist Greg Palast. He is on assignment in Mexico covering the Presidential Election. To see pictures from Mexico click here.

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