Mexico, Elections, Part 2

by Miguel de Icaza

It has certainly been an exciting time to be in Mexico. And I have been lucky enough to have friends working everywhere in the elections process, so I have got some good and juicy gossipy things.

Laura at the IFE on Sunday.

The "fast count" process on Sunday (called "PREP") gave an edge to the PAN candidate by a point or two early during the election. People suspected that someone was tampering with the flow of the data. Yesterday we learned that people were instructed to delay the data entry for results where the PRD was wining.

The idea they were shooting for was to make the difference large enough on Sunday to call the election. But the difference was small enough and the missing data large enough that the plans were thwarted. By the next morning the trend had stopped.

The Media area at the IFE, during a quiet period.

There were also a lot of invalidated voting boxes, which were not accounted until Tuesday night and closed the gap from 500k to 200k (there were 2.5 million votes there, update: fixed the number from 1.5 to 2.5). Plus there were another 2.5 million votes missing when candidates had a 250 difference (Granado's Chapa account).

Yesterday we learned from some whistle blowers, as suspected, that they had been instructed to delay the data entry for data that was not favorable to the PAN (right).

Laura and Patrick posing at the IFE.

But there are multiple layers of hacks being done in the election: boxes where the total sum surpasses the number of ballots (by hundreds); boxes where all the PRD votes were wiped out; boxes where a handful of votes are moved from one party to the other and boxes where there is only one winer.

But the PREP fast-counting process is now useless, as I mentioned previously it was merely a coarse tool that had too many errors to be used for such a close election. The real counting began yesterday in the 300 districts, where people are counting the paper reports instead of the digitally entered data.

Some of my friends working for the PRD, and some of them working on their own took the data from the PREP and used that to identify fishy ballot booths. Those which present funny statistical warts (more votes than allowed, where the margin is larger than 20; votes where the results vary wildy in the same geographical region; ballot boxes that do not follow a gaussian distribution and a few more).

Armed with this information, the PRD has requested that those ballot booths be opened and all the votes on them counted at the district level.

At least on one of the DF districts the opening of the ballot boxes that showed some signs of statistical creativity have rendered 7,000 votes that were missing for the PRD. A minute-by-minute account of how they were uncovered is here. Also Leo has a page.

The issue is with the remote districts where there are not many PRD representatives to push for the opening of the boxes. If they can find 7,000 unaccounted votes in a district in Mexico City, a PRD stronghold, I can only imagine what happened elsewhere.

The link listed above shows that in one of the rural districts in Tabasco, the mistakes made up for 20,000 votes for the PRD that had been wiped out.

Part of the problem is that not every box with fishy results is being opened, there is a strong refusal to do this on the side of the PAN so each box is basically a fight. This means that the PRD might choose to bring the list of statistically fishy results and request the opening at the federal tribunal.

Miguel's own Exit Polls

I have been asking people I talk to on the streets (taxi drivers, my friends, waiters, salesmen, my family) who they voted for, and if they voted for the PAN, why they voted for them.

I was interested in whether the PAN's propaganda had any effect. My family is sharply divided, my mother's side is of a strong catholic background, the kind of catholic that would fight with a gun to avoid the separation of Church and State last century. They still attend mass in Latin and refuse to use any of the public works/roads built my the PRD government in Mexico City.

So here are the, statistically meaningless, reasons that I found interesting from people voting for the right (PAN):

  • If the PRD wins, I will lose my house.
  • If the PRD wins, they are going to nationalize all property, and I will lose my house.
  • The PRD called for a popular uprising on Friday (this was the rumor stared by the right when they hacked into the left's web site and posted an apocryphal letter).
  • The PRD will not allow business to operate, and I work at a business.
  • The PRD will force three to four families to share an appartment.
  • The PRD is a danger to Mexico (he couldn't say why).
  • Update: The PRD candidate killed his brother.
  • Update: If the PRD wins, they will close the churches.
  • Update: The PRD candidate killed another kid with a baseball bat when he was a kid.
  • Update: The PRD candidate never finished his degree.

Am missing a few, but I can not remember them now.

And of course, none of that makes sense nor does it follow the pattern that the PRD used in Mexico City for the past 10 or 12 years. But the propaganda was strong, the ads on TV explicitly spelled that for the population.

Update: Federico overheard this discussion on the Paris airport, two mexicans talking to each other about the elections:

Dude1: This election stuff is terrifying.

Dude2: Yeah.

Dude1: Imagine loosing everything you own.

Alternate Vote Counting

To prevent electronic fraud like in 1994, an alternate, site was set up, we went to this site on Sunday at night, where some of my friends are working. They had some 200 data entry people receiving data.

The data coming out of this center was used to identify some of the fishy boxes (when the data reported here did not match the PREP data). The only problem is that it only has coverage for one third of the votes in the country.

This is one of the capture rooms:

Capture Room, Redes Ciudadanas

Mancha and Laura.

High Tech Cheating

On Sunday, I was explaining to an international visitor that just like the US has a very advanced high-tech industry, Mexico is the leader in the election fraud industry.

The range of schemes used to cheat in an election is very resourceful, varied in texture, color and smell. It will be the subject of another blog post where I cover the traditional "mapaches", "urnas embarazadas", "fraude hormiga", "el taco", "el carrusel", "raton loco", "remplazo de urna" and the new high-tech ones that were pioneered in 1994.

Posted on 06 Jul 2006