Cracking the Election's Nut

by Miguel de Icaza

Based on the final results from the election a group of friends, most of us met through the Linux User's Group in México, have been working on finding the voting booths that have problems.

The results are available here, it is a work in progress.

There are a number of angles at the problem: places where the number of blank votes is too high (Greg Palast wrote about this pattern on his "Mexico and Florida have more in common than heat" article).

Another set of interesting graphs is plotting the number of booths that had a given number of votes. With that graph its possible to spot differences in the standard distribution and pin-point places where results were tampered with.

This is the same study that José Barberán did in 1988 that showed the fraud done by the PRI. I talked about the details on a blog post from 2002.

Some simple checksums are used to find "pregnant booths", that is booths where the total of votes exceeds the number of votes that could have been casted (there are limits per voting booth on the number).

These results hopefully can be used to determine which voting packages need to be opened and audited.


Another article from CommonDreams, in particular, there are some complains that can not be tracked down easily with awk and sql.

Summary: Fox violating elections law; The fear campaign from the PAN; Using federal information from social programs to drive votes; Vote purchasing;

Although Sunday's voting was peaceful and turnout high, reporters in the streets and letters to the press testify to the thousands of voters who waited in line for hours, only to be told that their polling place had run out of ballots. Thousands more were informed that their names had disappeared from the rolls. These people now complain that they were frustrated in the exercise of their civic duty by a system they suspect of bias. They are joined by millions more who are convinced that the whole process --- from the campaigns to the count --- was riddled with inequities.

Many factors feed into this lack of public confidence. The first is the blatant partisan involvement of the president and federal government. President Fox consistently violated a Mexican law that calls for the neutrality of government officials in carrying out their public duties, despite weak admonitions from the elections authorities.

The campaigns were not what Mexico's citizenry deserved. Calderón's campaign slogan "López Obrador is a danger to México" was low-level politicking and worked not to inform voters but to create a climate of fear until it was finally declared illegal by elections authorities. The veiled threats of the Business Council and dire warnings of economic collapse from Calderón were neither grounded in fact nor ethical as a campaign tactic. When fear ---of loss of jobs, houses, or national stability---trumps reasoned choice, it's the nation as a whole that has lost the elections.

The PAN also made full use of the tactics of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Part of the political culture entails delivering votes to the highest bidder---the party that brings in building materials, a new basketball court, or cash payments. It is a civic vice that the Mexican political system as a whole has not yet overcome. After years of one-party rule, many citizens still view their vote as a commodity to be bartered and not a principled statement to chart a course for the nation. On the local level where vote-buying is most prominent, none of the major parties has done much to change this view. The flip side of vote-buying is vote coercion, or threatening to cut off goods or services for voting the wrong way.

Vote buying and vote coercion are tools primarily used by the government. Fox's "government of change," rather than eliminating this vestige of authoritarian rule, has refined it to a science. The first sign that this would be a major part of the PAN campaign came when Josefina Vázquez Mota, Secretary of Social Development was made campaign manager for Felipe Calderón. As secretary, she had access to detailed information on recipients of government assistance programs. An independent report commissioned by the government found that over four million people were susceptible to vote-buying or coercion due to the way government programs were used. During the campaigns, reporters gathered numerous testimonies of these practices in action.


The electoral institutions created over the past decade are still weak. They were unable or unwilling to stop the PAN from violating electoral laws that forbid smear campaigns and the intromission of government officials in campaigns. Suspicions of collusion between authorities and the PAN were reinforced just days before the elections when Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui demonstrated on national television that the PAN had developed a secret access code to the national registry of voters. Voter registration data is restricted by law to electoral authorities.

Zocalo Meeting

AMLO called for a 5pm meeting in downtown M�xico City today, 150,000 people showed up:

Posted on 08 Jul 2006