Lying Media Bastards

July 8, 2006

Wreck the Vote


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Local TV news is telling me that in Mexico, popular left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is claiming that there was massive fraud in the recent national election. However, despite his claims, the news is simply stating that AMLO’s opponent, conservative Felipe Calderon, is the winner. It’s true, Calderon got more votes in the official count, but given allegations of fraud, it seems a fair-minded news agency would avoid jumping to such conclusions.

Ha ha ha, who am I kidding?

First of all, Mexican politics are notoriously corrupt. For example, in this very election, AMLO, Calderon and the number three candidate tried to buy votes. Back in the mid-90s, one candidate was assassinated, allegedly on the orders of a member of his own party. But ballot fraud? Of course these men would do no such thing.

There are a number of shady things going on here, though. Maybe there are rational, legal explanations for them, maybe not.

First, the Mexican election authorities (IFE) somehow “lost” 3.3 million votes, and then “found” 2.5 million of them. Some of these ballots were allegedly found in local garbage dumps. The folks at NarcoNews claim partial recounts show the race to be even closer than the official numbers, and that if all the votes were counted, that AMLO actually won the election. AMLO and his supporters are demanding an actual recount. We’ll see if that happens.

And muckraker Greg Palast highlights the large number of “undercount” ballots. The official tally showed Calderon winning by 243,000 over AMLO. However 827,000 votes (out of a total of 41 million) were “blank”. More than three times as many blank votes than the gap between the two candidates? Odd. In the past, Palast has shown that a “blank” ballot is not always necessarily blank, but sometimes is a valid ballot that was unreadable by a voting machine. And that shady election officials sometimes make sure that the worst voting machines go to the neighborhoods where citizens are likely to vote for the officials’ opponents.

AMLO has called for his supporters to protest and call for a full recount, done by humans instead of machines. Of course, the nightly news tells us that these protests have been peaceful… “so far.” And the US Embassy in Mexico City has urged Americans to avoid the protest sites, because “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.” Which, while technically true (any sort of activity has the potential to turn into violence), sends the message that the protesters are scary and irrational.

Last month, we also got to see the diseased underbelly of the American voting system as well, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published his piece on legal and illegal schemes used by Republican officials to secure a Bush victory in Ohio in 2004. I then heard Kennedy go into more detail in this radio interview (starts about 25 minutes in. But listen to the first interview first, appalling stuff about Iraq), talking about other shenanigans in other states. There is a clear Republican pattern of attempting to deny the vote to folks likely to choose Democrats. First, they try to challenge the legitimacy of any probable Democratic voter that they can find an excuse for, alleging that their registration is fraudulent. Then, when Republican operatives are the election authorities, voting resources are parcelled out to favor voters in Republican precints and to try to prevent Democrats from voting at all (e.g. if your district has like one voting machine per 1000 people, and you have to stand in line for 2 hours to vote, you might give up and go home without voting). And finally, Republicans keep trying to require voters to show more forms of ID, or new forms of ID, again with the “fraudulent voting” nonsense. This ploy hinders the poor and the elderly, who would most likely vote Democrat. Hell, last year, Republicans tried to pass a law that would require people to pay money for a special ID that would let them vote.

Then of course you get allegations about rigged voter machines, rigged vote counts, Florida, and I don’t know how anyone can trust elections. I think back to 2004 when we were all trying to explain why the American people favored Bush. Now I don’t know that I could have said a single word on the subject, because I have no idea who the people actually voted for. Probably never will.

Posted by Jake on July 8, 2006 10:23 pm

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