Mexico and Florida Have More in Common Than Heat

Greg Palast

By Greg Palast
Saturday July 8, 2006
excerpted from The Guardian UK

[Mexico City] There’s more that the Mexico vote has in common with Florida besides the heat. The ruling party’s hand-picked electoral commission counted a mere 243,000 votes more for their candidate, Felipe Calderón, over challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. That’s noteworthy in light of the surprise showing of candidate Senor Blank-o (the 827,000 ballots supposedly left “blank”).

We’ve seen Mr Blank-o do well before – in Florida in 2000 when Florida’s secretary of state (who was also co-chair of the Bush campaign) announced that 179,000 ballots showed no vote for the president. The machines couldn’t read these ballots with “hanging chads” and other technical problems. Humans can read these ballots with ease, but the hand-count was blocked by Bush’s conflicted official.

And so it is in Mexico. The Calderón “victory” is based on a gross addition of tabulation sheets. His party, the PAN, and its election officials are refusing López Obrador’s call for a hand recount of each ballot which would be sure to fill in those blanks.

Blank ballots are rarely random. In Florida in 2000, 88% of the supposedly blank ballots came from African-American voting districts – that is, they were cast by Democratic voters. In Mexico, the supposed empty or unreadable ballots come from the poorer districts where the challenger’s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PDR) is strongest.

There’s an echo of the US non-count in the south-of-the-border tally. It’s called “negative drop-off”. In a surprising number of districts in Mexico, the federal electoral commission logged lots of negative drop-off: more votes for lower offices than for president. Did López Obrador supporters, en masse, forget to punch in their choice?

Mexico’s Bush-backed ruling party claims it has conducted Mexico’s first truly honest election, though it refuses to count all the ballots. Has the PAN and its ally in Washington served democracy in this election, or merely Florida con salsa?

Read the full story at The Guardian

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf? China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ’08 and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.” For the full Guardian article