Partial Mexico recount under way

Thu, Jul 5, 2012, 01:00

Mexico's election officials yesterday recounted votes from more than half the polling booths in Sunday's presidential and congressional elections in response to claims of fraud and requests for recounts in areas where the race was tight.

Officials with the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) said the recount would not significantly change preliminary results of the presidential vote, which showed Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) winning with more than 38 per cent of the vote, 6.5 points clear of his nearest rival.

Leftist runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to concede and demanded a new tally, alleging vote-buying and coercion by the PRI, whose seven decades of rule until it lost power in 2000 were marked by widespread allegations of vote-rigging.

A small group of Ms Lopez Obrador's supporters set up a makeshift camp outside the headquarters of the electoral institute today.

In the weeks before the election, a student movement criticising Mr Pena Nieto and the PRI erupted, with many young voters rallying around Mr Lopez Obrador's campaign, mostly in Mexico City where the left won a resounding victory.

The left has accused the PRI of handing out pre-paid shopping cards and other goods to voters in exchange for support, a charge the Pena Nieto campaign denies.

Mr Lopez Obrador had asked for a recount of every vote, but the electoral institute said that just over half the polling booths for the presidential race met the necessary conditions set out by a 2007 electoral law. That law stipulates that a recount can only be requested at a polling station where there is a gap of less than 1 percentage point between the two leading candidates, or for other "inconsistencies" that could include hard-to-read ballots.

"This is an exercise in openness and transparency," said Edmundo Jacobo, executive secretary of the electoral institute.

The final presidential numbers were due today. With returns counted from 54 per cent of the polling stations, Mr Pena Nieto had won 39 per cent of the vote, eight points ahead of Mr Lopez Obrador.

All these votes had either been recounted or were already considered final, the Federal Electoral Institute said.