Study Recommends More Transparency for Wider Recount That Begins This Week
For Immediate Release: August 8, 2006
Contact: Mark Weisbrot, 202-746-7264
Dan Beeton, 202-293-5380 x 104; 202-256-6116 (cell)
Washington, D.C.: An analysis of the first partial recount of Mexico's presidential election raises a number of questions about the electoral process, most importantly about its transparency. The study, conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), also found a number of unexplained anomalies in the data.
"Mexico's electoral authorities should be conducting a impartial inquiry into what happened in this election, and making the results known to the public as accurately and quickly as possible," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR and co-author of this report. "It is clear that they did not fulfill this responsibility for the first partial recount."
Among the problems with the transparency of the first recount, which encompassed about 2.2 percent of the ballot boxes, are:
- It has taken a month since the recount for the results to be posted on the web site of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), as opposed to the original count, which was posted immediately. The information from the first recount should have been immediately available because it is very relevant to the Federal Electoral Tribunal's decision regarding the larger recount, which begins tomorrow.
- The results posted still do not sufficiently explain what happened in the recounted areas. For example, some 116 ballot boxes apparently lost an average of 63 percent of their votes in the recount. The IFE has still not explained to the public how this happened or where these votes went.
An analysis of the recounted ballots also shows a number of anomalies. For example:
- Most of the difference between the recounted and the original totals is due to 116 ballot boxes that lost an average of 63 percent of their votes during the recount. These were largely ballot boxes that contained more than the proscribed limit of 750 votes.
- Not all of the ballot boxes that had more than 750 votes were re-opened. The ones that were opened had a significantly higher percentage of votes for Lopez Obrador than the ones that were not opened. This raises the possibility that the recount gave Lopez Obrador a net loss of votes because of the way in which these "over voted" ballot boxes, which lost most of their votes during the recount, were selected to be opened.
- The majority of the null votes (17,129 or about 2 percent of the total votes) in the recounted ballot boxes were removed in the recount. The IFE did not explain whether any of these null votes became valid votes in the recount. If so, this is potentially important because the total number of null votes in the presidential race is more than three times the margin of difference between the two top candidates.
The authors note that it is possible that these and other anomalies found in the recounted data, described in the paper, have reasonable explanations. However, what is most difficult to explain is the lack of transparency in the process and the inordinate amount of time that the IFE has taken to publicize information - still very incomplete - on the recount that has taken place.
"It is unfortunate that the Federal Electoral Tribunal made a decision about which ballot boxes to recount before the results of this first partial recount were explained to the public," said Weisbrot. "Furthermore, if this new recount is not conducted very differently than the last one, it is difficult to see how it will be of much use in obtaining a credible result."
The full text of the report is available here.