Mexico's Electoral Tribunal Orders Partial Recount to Begin on Wednesday

In a Solomonic decision, the seven justices of Mexico’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (known as the Trife) cut the baby of democracy in half.

In doing so, they added more uncertainty and drama to an already tense crisis. The court’s decision to allow a recount in only half of Mexico’s 300 electoral districts could still result in an historic reversal of official tallies that gave a razor-thin advantage to National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderón (who the Federal Elections Commission, know as IFE, claims won by .58 percent or 240,000 votes), making former Mexico City governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) the comeback kid of this year’s cloudy election process.

Alternately, it could narrow the margin between the two candidates to an extent that makes evident the need for a full recount. The judges rejected appeals for a full recount in the country’s 130,000 precincts (where the official tally gives Calderón the advantage by less than two votes per precinct), instead opting to limit the recount to 11,839, about nine percent of the ballots cast. Attorneys for López Obrador supplied documentation of electoral fraud in 72,000 of the country’s 130,000 precincts. In a recount of that many districts, a change of only three votes per precinct would likely reverse the official tally making López Obrador the winner. However, the court has opted for a recount in only 11,839. That means that to reverse the national tally, a difference of 21 votes per precinct toward López Obrador would be required.

The messiest scenario will come if this sample of 11,000 precincts shows a shift averaging more than two or three votes per precinct toward López Obrador. If so, the national clamor for a full recount will boil over into a national rebellion. The court will have to either reconsider the matter of a full or larger recount or the post-electoral conflict will move from the courts to the streets and highways of Mexico.

The partial recount ordered by the court will begin Wednesday, August 9, and last for one week (in which regional judges will count ballots in public sessions, including over next weekend) and the results must be submitted by August 16. The clock will then be ticking with just 15 days left until the court’s August 31 deadline to conduct recounts and its September 6 deadline to declare a presidential victor or, alternately, annul the election, bringing forward an even muddier scenario in which the federal Congress will have to choose an interim president to attempt to govern a divided populace.

López Obrador, whose supporters have camped out blockading Paseo de la Reforma and other important streets in the center of Mexico City for the past week, has called his people to the Zocalo – the gigantic “town square” of the nation – at 7 p.m. tonight to offer his response to the tribunal’s decision. There, history may find the baby of democracy is not willing to be cut in half and is ready to fight like never before to survive.

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.